The Flight of The Draykes
Swaying violently at 3:30 a.m which turned out to be a measly two hours away from when our beloved teacher left us, I couldn’t resist yawning out loud.
But not loud enough that I woke up Alessia who was sleeping while standing and, bless her, snoring away loud enough to drown out my yawns.
I couldn’t have envied her more.
My eyelids twitching, I was seriously considering whether I should follow her example but I would probably fall down and the floor…
I personally don’t mind how dirty it is. But Ares’s anguished expression when he saw my clothes kept running through my mind.
It wasn’t the blood and tears that bothered him. It was the grime that was on the rear end from when I sat on the floor.
He had to wash his hands so many times to get rid of it after touching my clothes, that his skin had turned red and was ready to peel off.
This is truly too vexing.
I mean, our teacher is probably going to train us right?
It won’t do me any good to fall asleep in the middle of training, yes? So, I might as well catch a few winks and take the risk of falling down.
Yes, I shall do that!
Or I would have if the corner of my eye hadn’t caught a small sliver of movement in the blackened corner of the room while it was in the process of rolling in its sockets.
The man has been here the whole time.
Cold sweat running down my back, I considered the entire time that I was standing to examine whether I had done something stupid.
Thankfully, I came up with exactly 8 stupid things which I had done, which isn’t too much right?
Now the question is, Do I let him know that I know that he’s there?
Or do I pretend I don’t know?
So with cold sweat running down my back, I stood for another half an hour with the feeling that a venomous viper was staring at me, all the way until the shadow finally blinked in front of us and stood, dressed elegantly and seemingly as fresh as though he had just walked out from a deep sleep and a luxurious bath.
Startled, I noticed that Alessia at some point had already woken up and was respectfully kneeling in respect. Hastily following her example, I knelt while silently apologizing to Ares in my heart.
“Did you sleep well? Are you rested?” He asked with schadenfreude.
“Yes, Teacher! I am fully rested!”
Skeptically, I shot a glance at Sia, only for her to stare straight ahead without noticing it.
But the Teacher noticed it.
Smiling, he said “She’s not lying. She is well-rested. A true warrior will seize any moment to rest at all given points of time. Lying down is just an additional help to sleep. A true warrior can sleep in any position and any condition!”
I cursed mentally at the missed opportunity but then I comforted myself with the fact that I probably wouldn’t have woken up, had I slept.
Observing me for a few moments, he continued “You don’t seem very surprised that I was observing you, which means that you did notice me at 3:30 a.m”
“I was doubtful then and I’m doubtful now. How did you notice me, Faustus?”
Coughing, I told him how my eyes had rolled and I caught his movement from the corner of my eyes.
“Ah, we might as well start with that as the beginning of our lesson today.”
“What you mean by the corner of the eye is called peripheral vision. It allows you to better see what is happening around you and at a faster rate of understanding than your direct vision.”
Seeing my confused face, he elaborated, “Essentially it means that your peripheral vision can see objects more clearly thus making it easier for you to understand and react. This in a way can be compared to slowing down time in combat and is an essential skill for you to practice.”
“Speaking of which, I have many ways to develop your peripheral vision,” he said, with a devilish smile on his face.
Shuddering, I replied, “I shall do my best Teacher”
Smirking, he said, “You will do your best and beyond that or else this room will become the room where you live in. Consider it your prison that you can leave freely as long as you please me with your performance.”
Shuddering, even more, I silently nodded.
“Now, unlike most people who put you through training and then expect you to have a eureka moment that allows you to understand the purpose of training, I prefer to give a direct explanation for the more basic aspects of combat. So listen well.”
“Before I begin, if you have any questions, it’s your last chance to ask them.”
Raising my hand tentatively, I received his affirmation before asking slowly and clearly,
“Teacher, you talked about emotions and enhancement. But why is my anger good while Alessia’s emotions are bad?”
“Also, why did you say that you’re more at a disadvantage as a gold-ranked knight if you were an ordinary man? What do you mean by that exactly?”
I was about to continue when Teacher cut me off and said, “We shall talk on each question one at a time. Understand and progress, yes?”
“Now Alessia, Why don’t you explain to Faustus why your emotions are a weakness while his anger was an enhancement?”
“Yes, teacher!” Taking a moment to organize her thoughts, Alessia turned around to face me, before saying, “My emotions were sadness and loss. Those emotions robbed me of the will to fight and interfered with my combat abilities and hence, they are a weakness. Your anger on the other hand activated your will to fight and allowed you to rampage freely and thus it was an enhancement. As to why this is-,” Looking at Teacher, She paused.
Continuing from where Alessia left off, Teacher slowly spoke, “Emotions are enhancements but they do not only enhance strengths but weaknesses too! They are also dependent on the person themselves and their fighting style.”
“Let us talk about the person. If someone could use sorrow to become more powerful, then it is obviously a positive enhancement. On the other hand, if someone else used sorrow as an enhancement, They might become combat ineffective like Alessia.”
“This means that you need to identify what emotions help you, and what is detrimental to you.”
“As for the fighting style, Let me ask you a question, Faustus. Today, when I spoke about the feint, You understood that since you could not match my speed, you would be hit by my blow irrespective of redirecting your warforce unless you could be faster than me.”
“But is that the only way to defend from my blow?”
Pondering, I stayed silent for a whole 15 minutes while the gears in my head turned and my Teacher and Sia waited patiently before I raised my head.
“No. There is another way. I can aim for a critical blow on you in exchange for your blow. If you carry on, I will be hit. But you will be hit also!”
A look of praise flashed across Leonidas’s face.
“Indeed! What you have said is the principle of mutual destruction. It is one of the ways that you can defend yourself if you do not have the speed to match me. But remember, it is but one of the ways and there are more to uncover! Think about it in the future but for now, let us come back to fighting style.”
“What is your fighting style, Faustus?”
Slowly realizing it, I responded, “Mutual destruction. I took the hits, and I gave back the hits. They fell. I remained standing. So I won.”
Clasping his hands behind his back, Leonidas exclaimed, “Precisely so! Your anger allowed you to shrug off the pain and continue dishing out the pain. Thus, it is an enhancement.”
“Now tell me, is mutual destruction the style you are going to pursue in the future?”
Shaking my head, I responded, “I do not know. Please guide me, Teacher!”
Approvingly Leonidas nodded.
“If your style is to be mutual destruction, then the only outcome for you is-” Pausing heavily, he said, “Death!”
“You will die beyond a doubt or have your combat ability diminish after wound after wound until you become crippled!”
“Your anger is a positive enhancement! But it also has its drawbacks! It prevents you from making rational decisions! It prevents you from understanding the feedback of your body!”
“So Faustus, what should we do?”
“Think on this. It is your task for tomorrow.”
“As for your second question, I will answer it in the training part for the answer is not basic at all!”
“Now any more questions?”
Musing, I honestly asked the one thing that had been troubling me the entirety of the few hours that I had to myself.
“Teacher, why can I use warforce despite not awakening”
“Who said that you can use warforce?”
Vexed, I looked at my Teacher who innocently blinked at me before saying slowly, “Wasn’t it you who said that today morning my dear Teacher”
“I do remember mentioning it yes, but can you use warforce?”
Patiently, I replied, “I have never used warforce so how on Protos can I use warforce?”
“But you have learned the circulation paths of the Count’s warforce manual, yes?”
“Yes, we began learning it from the age that we can walk.”
“So why don’t you use it and generate some warforce?”
Looking doubtfully at my Teacher, I sat down cross-legged and began circulating my blood in the routes that my family’s warforce manual described.
Only to find that at the end of the circulation, nothing happened! Just like all the hundreds of times before! Apart from the feel-good feeling inside, there was nothing! Zilch. Nada.
Downcast, I looked at Teacher and waited subconsciously for his explanation.
Taking note of my expression, Teacher spoke, “You cannot ‘use’ warforce despite not being awakened but you can ‘trigger’ warforce which is the word I remember using before.”
“The difference between ‘use’ and ‘trigger’ is that one is voluntary, the other is conditional. Voluntary means you can activate it at any time. Conditional, on the other hand, means that only on the conditions for the trigger being satisfied can you generate warforce.”
Hesitantly, I asked, “But Teacher, if I can ‘trigger’ warforce without being awakened, does that mean other people can also ‘trigger it’?”
Unhurriedly, Teacher replied, “Yes, other ordinary people also may find themselves in positions where the ‘trigger’ of the warforce has been activated.”
“So does that mean that anybody can become a warforce knight even if they don’t awaken their warforce at 10? I mean, besides the exceptional people that you talked about?” I asked
“In principle, yes, but in practice, it is very rare.”
“This is because of one crucial condition. I call it the ‘container’.”
“A body before awakening is akin to a cup. After awakening, the cup becomes a bucket in which warforce can be generated. Iron ranks can use this bucket to water any part of themselves and so on.”
“However, to use warforce without awakening, the ‘container’ which is still a cup has only three choices.”
“One - To expand.”
“Two - To shatter.”
“Three - To utilize the water or the warforce faster than it is being filled up by the cup. This can stretch the cup but it won’t truly expand it, nor will it shatter it.”
“In the first case, the person can be considered as being awakened.”
“In the second, the person will forever be ordinary if not killed instantly by the explosion of warforce inside his body.”
“In the third, the warforce will fill the cup and cause damage to the walls of the cup but it is still accessible by the individual. We can call this a semi-awakened state.”
“Now I believed that you were in a semi-awakened state.”
“But I was wrong! I understood with the feint test yesterday that you do not possess even an ounce of the awakened state whatsoever.”
“Thus you are the incredibly rarely seen individuals. The ones who can trigger warforce without awakening and still live to tell the tale! In addition, your body has been improved by a small margin due to your triggering of the warforce”
Stunned, I looked at Teacher who in turn looked at me peacefully. Then to Sia who was frowning mightily.
“In other words, Faust might have lost his life yesterday when he fought Harold?” she asked, tight-lipped.
Sighing, Teacher said, “Yes, he might have lost his life.”
“What if he trains under you without awakening Teacher? If we ‘trigger’ his warforce again, wouldn’t he be in the same danger?”
“Yes, he will. He most definitely will be in danger. But I will be here and I will stop the danger from being fatal.”
“Believe in your Teacher!”
Biting her lips, Sia turned to Faustus.
Giving her a reassuring smile, Faustus said, “Don’t worry. I believe in our Teacher. I also believe in you, Sia. I won’t let myself explode before I shine brighter than the moon and the stars and even the sun!”
Determinedly turning around to my Teacher, I asked with a set face, “What training do I have to undergo, and in what ways will you ‘trigger’ my warforce?”
Smiling contentedly, Teacher replied, “The most brutal training and the most brutal ways will be what I use to ‘trigger’ your warforce without awakening you.”
Gulping, I was regretting my bold words already but then gritting my teeth, I nodded and acquiesced to his words.
“Do not get me wrong Faustus. My methods are brutal indeed but yours will be so brutal, that they are inhumane.”
“This is because only under the most extreme of situations will the ‘trigger’ be unlocked. Situations like a building falling and a mother holding up a section of wall from crushing her child with superhuman strength, all because her ‘trigger’ for warforce has been unleashed!”
“Only the most intense emotions and willpower can allow the ‘trigger’ to your warforce to be unleashed.”
“For that, I have no other choice but to use these methods that I never thought I would use.”
“I understand Teacher, but why is it that when you talk about those methods, you have such a look of yearning. You’re not a sadist are you Teacher?” I asked suspiciously.
Coughing violently, Our Teacher changed the subject by directing us to prepare for training.
But his answer to my next question sent me coughing violently next.
Because I asked him how he would prevent me from fatally injuring myself from triggering the ‘trigger’.
His answer? “By beating you unconscious of course!”