Destroyer of Ice and Fire
Chapter 26: Sweet candy and midnight screech
"What was it about you being very familiar with the medical masters inside?"
"We didn’t meet anyone, what does it have to do with being familiar or not?"
He’d gone through a tunnel following after Belo, gone through a sewer, gone through a ventilation shaft, gone through a room filled with skeletons where weird, frightening organs were soaked, gone through several outside stairs no one used, then finally climbed through a trash tunnel before reaching this passage. Ayrin was about to collapse.
"What kind of conspiracy are you plotting?" Ayrin couldn’t help but ask, looking at Belo’s glasses glittering with starlight inside the darkness.
"Eh? I’m helping you meet Chris, no matter what I already successfully brought you here, she should be in there." Belo pushed his glasses and said in a whisper, "Just go and see for yourself if you don’t believe me, but I advise you not to make any sound, otherwise it’d be a waste my efforts."
Ayrin walked to that ward, holding onto one last glimmer of hope. However, his gloominess and frustration disappeared into nothingness all of a sudden when he pushed the door to the first ward Belo had pointed to.
"Didn’t I say she would be in this room."
Belo’s voice rang softly beside his ear, just like the whisper of a fox inside a dark night. "The Holy Dawn teachers will of course also have selfish motives, they’ll naturally leave the room with the best conditions and the tightest security to a student of their own academy."
In front of Ayrin was a very big room.
The room was suffused with a herbal fragrance, covered in a blue carpet, with a single bed. The curtains in a magenta velvet were slightly parted; a fresh wind and faint starlight flowed inside from half the window opened slightly ajar.
Chris slept peacefully in the middle of the white sickbed. Her face and hair seemed to glitter under the starlight.
"Where did that guy run off to?"
Ayrin wanted to say something to Belo, but he found out as soon as he turned his head around that, even though he was still whispering against his ear moments ago, Belo had already vanished like a ghost or a devil.
Just when Ayrin was thinking he better not wake up Chris after all, and just softly leave his gifts behind before leaving, her long eyelashes suddenly fluttered a couple times. She opened her eyes.
She blinked a few times, a little confused. She stayed very calm when she ascertained her surroundings along with Ayrin standing in the doorway. "Are you the teacher on duty? Why do you look so young?"
"I’m not the teacher on duty, I came to see how you were doing."
Ayrin said, a little embarrassed, "Don’t you recognize me? You invited us to eat many things inside the Thinker’s Stone Forest, back when we were punished to stand."
"A freshman punished by Huston?"
Chris blinked her eyes in astonishment. "I remember you guys, but how did you come in?"
"One of the friends who were standing with me took me in here earlier, I don’t know if you still remember him. He wears glasses." Ayrin said, vexed, "I have no idea where he ran off now though."
"He can actually sneak inside with you, he’s that good?"
The trace of an admiring smile rippled on the corner of Chris’ mouth. "I don’t remember how he looks like anymore, I remember there were three of you back then though."
"Yeah, there’s a red-hair called Moss, the glasses is called Belo, I’m Ayrin." Ayrin said full of spirits, "I watched your match today. I thought we were going to lose for sure, are you feeling better now? …Oh right, I brought you a gift. Green-wrapped candy with chocolate stuffing, a shopkeeper said it tastes great. I also have little bear gummies."
Chris’ mouth was open wide in a somewhat exaggerated fashion. "Is that chocolate-stuffed candy from the little shop with the green iron roof? That’s my favorite, it’s just been a long while since I went there to buy some."
"That’s right." A giant happiness descended upon Ayrin. He kept nodding. "You want to eat it now?"
"I very much want to," Chris said in all honesty, but then she became a little bashful. "But right now I can’t move, can you unwrap it for me?"
Ayrin went inside the ward, sat on the edge of Chris’ bed. He carefully unwrapped one and put it inside Chris’ mouth.
"That’s the spot…" Chris’ eyes immediately filled with little stars in satisfaction.
"You must have been training too assiduously, that’s why you even forgot to buy your favorite." Ayrin looked at her long eyelashes, the corner of her mouth, small and delicate. "I heard Belo say that someone from an ordinary human bloodline has to spend at least several times the effort if they want to train their strength, agility, and coordination to an even stronger level than those with beastmen blood."
"I want another one."
Chris seemed far removed from her incomparably domineering self during the match. She pursed her lips and confidently said, "Nothing to be done about it, it’s the only way to beat those powerful guys."
"You can’t move at all?" Ayrin unwrapped a candy, worriedly watching her at the same time. "How are your injuries, can you make it to the next match?"
"The next match’s in three months. I asked teacher Namin, there’s absolutely no problem, I’ll just be missing a lot of training time."
"Three months? There’s such a long interval between a match and the next one?"
"A competition like this leaves a certain amount of time to allow for treatment of injuries, since injuries are unavoidable." Chris sucked on the chocolate-stuffed candy and slowly said, "Today’s match was a preliminary qualifier though, that’s why there’s an especially long time until the main qualifying round. There’s only half a month between matches when the main qualifiers begin."
"Half a month? Then in case of serious injuries, you can’t participate in the next match?"
"Yes, that’s why the tournament is harder the further you go."
"So it’s easier to become champions for teams with five very powerful people, or academies with very powerful figures outside the five?"
"That’s right. That’s why you have to pay attention to tactics sometimes and have a plan in place to counter your next opponents, see which members you can’t afford to lose because of injuries." Chris said seriously, "If it weren’t so hard, there wouldn’t be so many people risking their all to become the tournament’s ultimate champions."
"I’ll train very hard too, I think this tournament’s very interesting. I want to help you grab the victory in this tournament," Ayrin said, with equal seriousness.
"Alright then." She watched Ayrin with a smile. "You have to find a way to beat the other members of our team first. We’ll see after you’re strong enough to join the academy’s team. Give me a small bear gummi, I’ve never eaten these before, I want try what they taste like."
"Mm. I’ll definitely beat them and join the academy’s team!"
Ayrin made an earnest promise, then he poured out a gummi from a glass bottle and put it inside Chris’ mouth.
"What are you doing, stop!"
"Who the hell are you, how did you come in!"
An exceptionally astonished and angry scream echoed at this time. A black shadow rushed inside the ward with a shrill windy sound, just like a bat. This black shadow pushed him against the wall. Ayrin couldn’t oppose the slightest resistance.
"Teacher, he’s my friend, no need to worry."
Ayrin only noticed after hearing Chris’ voice that the one clutching his neck and pressing him against the wall was a thirty-something short-haired female arcane master with a face white like snow.
This female arcane master’s body trembled nonstop.
She still couldn’t believe at all what she saw with her own eyes. This was a sickbay area heavily protected by arcane masters of the medical branch, and there were also battlemasters helping with the site’s security with their patrols outside. Everyone here was on high alert because of Namin’s special order. What no one could imagine was, someone actually found their way inside and was even feeding something to Chris!
After rushing inside, she’d already decided it was an ordinary candy from the smell, that was why she wasn’t heavy-handed when dealing with Ayrin. Still, cold sweat covered her from head to toe.
Chris was the most elite student in the academy, she was the academy’s most treasured asset. She just couldn’t image the result if the one who’d sneaked in had been an enemy feeding Chris something harmful instead.
She couldn’t even speak for a short while.
A dozen shadows arrived in this room in an instant, whistling through the air, dashing in from the windows or the door.
The big empty spacious room became congested with people in an instant.
"How did you come in!"
"You actually secretly sneaked in here?"
All the arcane masters inside the room were thoroughly shocked, their expressions all unsightly to the extreme.
"I came in from the rear wall." Seeing those arcane masters’ expressions, Ayrin realized severe punishment would probably be oncoming, so he gave Chris a wink. He didn’t want to expose Belo, he didn’t mind shouldering the punishments by himself.
An arcane master with hair wrapped in blue cloth shouted in a stern voice, veins popping on his forehead, "Details, speak up!"
"There’s a tunnel in the small woods behind, it connects to a sewer…"
"Go check immediately, see if his first sentence is true or not!" This arcane master immediately issued a command.
A silhouette immediately turned into a blurry shadow and shot out. It skimmed back from the windows not even one minute later. "It’s indeed there."
"How did you know there’s such a tunnel! What did you do after you came in?"
Just as Ayrin was considering how to answer, an urgent warning cry suddenly rang. This warning cry very much resembled the piercing call of a bird.
"What happened?" All the arcane masters inside the room shook, their expressions becoming even unsightlier.
"The members of team Southern Monsoon all disappeared!"
Another arcane master rushed in, dazed and beside himself. "There’s a side door open. Someone must have infiltrated in while you all hurried here and taken all those wounded people away."
The leading arcane master with his hair wrapped in blue cloth was sweating cold sweat. It dripped down from his face as if it were flowing water. "Why didn’t you chase behind if you saw the side door open!"
"I already did, haven’t found them yet!"
"Who the hell are you!" Several arcane masters closed in on Ayrin who stood there dumbfounded.
"Don’t be anxious, just let us handle it." A crisp female voice came at this moment.
"It’s Ciaran!" The arcane masters inside the room all looked at each other, all heaving a sigh of relief.
Ferdinand woke up from his dreams.
At first he thought the bed felt really hard, totally different from how soft it was before.
Then he suddenly discovered myriads of stars hanging above his head. He wasn’t inside the room, but in a wide open space!
Following that, he noticed he was simply in the desolate countryside!
He shrieked the next second. He had no idea what was happening. He and Riley and the others should have been comfortably lying inside Holy Dawn Academy’s infirmary. But now he could see that he and his teammates had all been rolled up, together with their bedding, and thrown onto a wild grassland. In addition, the surroundings were filled with burial mounds brimming with ghastly, ghostly auras. It was a cemetery!
"Impossible! Why are we here?"
Crewe was awake now, wakened by the loudness of his yell. And then he also became totally confused by the situation and let out a loud frightened yell.
"Hmph, you actually dare poach someone from my Holy Dawn Academy in broad daylight, you totally disregard me. I’ll let you see some ghosts!"
"Acting so arrogant to my face…"
The back of a seeming gentle figure traveled in the desolate forest near this cemetery, whispering arrogantly to himself. Not far away, shrieks rose one by one from the Southern Monsoon team members.
"This guy, he spent so much effort just to do something like that and blow off some steam. Really worthy of the Impulsive Freshman who had the guts to break into the Beasts Enclosure."
A soft lazy voice rose very quickly on the edges of the wild forest. "He’s actually able to lure so many people away and take these people here. I didn’t even have that kind of talent back then."
"Liszt, how should we deal with that little guy?" Minlur’s coarse voice also rose very quickly.
"It’s just a kid’s mischief, no need to bother." Liszt smiled. "I’m guessing it won’t be long before you get the opportunity to teach them and sort them out."
Destroyer of Ice and Fire
Chapter 27: A clear way forward!
After being taken away from the sickbay, Ayrin was locked inside a metallic room with a window only as big as his head.
He wasn’t worried about whatever punishment he was going to face, however. On the contrary, his heart was filled with boundless determination now he successfully met with Chris!
After gaining a clear-cut dream and a goal for his struggles, he seemed to have gained focus and spirit all of a suddenly, gained a meaning to his life.
Ayrin saw the way forward become clear all of a suddenly. Even the starlight filtering through the small windows seemed much more beautiful than ordinary moonlight.
"You have to find a way to beat the other members of our team. You have to have enough strength to join the academy’s team first…"
Ayrin had been previously extremely tired because of his foundation exercises, even before going to the infirmary, but he stood up as soon as he thought of this sentence. He did squats in this narrow space, leaps, runs and stops, punches. He continued to train nonstop.
Time passed by. Ayrin’s looked as he’d been fished out from a river. Muscles all over his body and even his bones were scorching hot, painful as if they’d cracked, to the point he’d shout in pain every time he moved.
"What are you doing?"
The heavy iron door suddenly opened. A great rush of fresh air gushed inside. Wrapped in a red scarf, elite teacher Ciaran and her pretty brown shoulder-length hair stood in the doorway. She became surprised as soon as she saw Ayrin’s distorted face, dripping from head to toe.
"I’m training." Ayrin panted in rough breaths. After recognizing teacher Ciaran, he said, filled with fighting spirit, "Because I want to join the academy’s team and participate in the Cup of Academy Braves."
"A freshman wants to go straight to the academy’s team and participate in the tournament?"
Thinking back to what Ayrin and Belo had done, and seeing Ayrin still up to so many tricks even locked inside this place, Ciaran felt a headache rising, but also some surprise. "You watched the match today? Then did you see that every participant in the competition can suffer very heavy injuries and even put their lives in danger. Aren’t you afraid?"
"Not afraid. I want to fight against these powerful guys, defeat them!"
"Surprising, he doesn’t have any fear at all, no wonder Liszt…" Ciaran looked at Ayrin’s spirited expression. She couldn’t see any dread or hesitation inside Ayrin’s eyes. She couldn’t help silently shake her head, and didn’t speak much further. She merely said, "You can go back and rest."
"I can go back and rest?"
"Yes, things have been clearly investigated, it has nothing to do with you guys. However, next time you want to come to the infirmary, you have come go through me and obtain my permission, otherwise if you rashly go in like this, it’s very possible it’d affect Chris’ recovery and cause harm to her body."
"I understand, next time I want to go I’ll make sure to come find teacher Ciaran!"
Ciara took Ayrin to a great avenue inside the academy. They said their farewells and walked a few steps away, but he suddenly turned around and charged back toward teacher Ciaran who’d also walked a few steps away. He asked loudly, "Teacher Ciaran, many powerful arcane skills can only be used condensing arcane particles, right?"
Ciaran turned around, a little curious. Seeing Ayrin looking full of zest despite his extreme exhaustion, she nodded and said, "Of course, the real power of arcane skills comes from the might of arcane particles superposed with accumulated arcane power. As to the tricks gathering a little arcane power with mere body movements, they can only be called arcanist techniques. They can’t be compared to genuine mighty arcane skills."
"Teacher Ciaran, how can I condense arcane particles then?" Ayrin asked immediately, hope and expectation written all over his face.
Ciaran stared blankly.
She’d almost never been asked such a question, because few freshmen were so hurried for instant results, because almost every student clearly knew they would slowly understand more about training and arcane particles in the course of their program. Moreover, almost every student very clearly knew there was simply no use considering this question during their freshman year, no matter how great their talents.
Perhaps in ordinary times, she would never have gone in details in answer to such a question from a freshman who’d joined the academy not long ago, but remembering some words from Liszt, and thinking again about this young man’s eyes filled with hot blood and devoid of any fear right now, her heart suddenly thumped inside her chest.
"You must already understand that physical strength is split into two parts. One part is the power stored inside all the tiny particles inside our body during ordinary times, and the other part is the power of our spiritual will. As to arcane power, it’s the power of external energy. Condensing arcane particles is about focusing our spirit and sucking the power of external energy inside our bodies, combining and compressing it together with the power accumulated inside every minute particles in the body."
Ciaran took a deep breath and looked at Ayrin, saying, "If you want to condense arcane particles, you have to fulfill two conditions. One, you have to have strong enough a mental power, and two, the power stored inside the minute particles inside your body must also be sufficiently high. To put it simply, a strong enough spiritual strength and physical strength… Only by continuously challenging your own limits and surpassing yourself can you continuously increase your own spiritual strength and physical strength, break through to a new level. It’s the only way to reach the level you want to reach in the shortest time."
Ayrin understood at once, saying with a fervent expression in his eyes, "So there’s no special method, the only way to becoming an arcane master is to train and exercise nonstop?"
"There’s no shortcut." Ciaran nodded. "Ordinary foundation training can continuously increase your physical strength, training in some ordinary arcanist techniques can increase your perception of the vital energy in the air. For new freshmen like you guys, you can only sense and mobilize the power of external energy when you combine chants and unique movements. You can only condense arcane particles then, otherwise you can’t even sense external energy. What you’re sensing is something invisible, how could you touch it and make it enter your body?"
"Of course, when your spiritual strength and physical strength become strong enough and reach the point of being able to condense arcane particles, the school has a few unique meditations and movements that’ll help you with sensing or using external energy." After a faint pause, Ciara looked at the incomparably earnest Ayrin and added, "When that time comes however, the most important thing is how to make your mind reach a high degree of concentration."
"I understand now, that’s something to think about when the time comes, what I can do now is to continuously challenge myself, train hard and surpass myself. Am I right or not, teacher!"
"It’s better to think like this." Ciara watched him and suddenly seemed to think of something. She said, "Teacher Huston who’s teaching you guys now can’t be said to be one with a strong battle power inside the academy, but he’s very knowledgeable when it comes to condensing arcane particles. Among all the teachers, he was one of the fastest ones to condense arcane particles."
"Really?" Ayrin was a little doubtful. "Everyone says he can’t even be called an elite teacher though. Someone who’s able to condense arcane particles very quickly, shouldn’t he have trained the most assiduously, be among the most outstanding ones?"
Ciaran shook her head. "Assiduous training is only one facet. If you talk simply about fighting, what determines whether an arcane master is strong or not depends on his natural talent in comprehending arcane skills, as well as his fighting talents. Huston’s merely a little lacking when it comes to his natural talent for comprehending arcane skills, so he couldn’t grasp the most powerful skills of the academy. That’s all."
"Is that so. Since teacher Huston’s so amazing, then I’ll surely progress a bit faster." Ayrin felt the road in front of him became a little clearer still. He looked at Ciaran, filled with excitement and enthusiasm. "Teacher, is it possible within three months?"
Ciaran froze a second, her shoulder-length brown hair drifting like a waterfall in the night wind. "I have to say… the possibility isn’t too great."
"Not a single person can achieve that?" Ayrin kept asking, without losing hope.
"In the entire Doraster continent, only a very few legendary arcane masters can do it." Ciara told Ayrin, "In the history of our Holy Dawn Academy, there’s only one person who managed to condense arcane particles a few months after Awakening. On top of that, that predecessor had very pure dragon blood."
"So there are people who succeeded!" Ayrin immediately shouted in happiness. "Then I have to strive hard and succeed as well."
"…" Ciaran was immediately speechless.
Under the dancing shadows of the trees, the figure of Ayrin’s back seemed also a little flurried.
Ciaran wordlessly watched the silhouette of his back, tired yet seemingly brimming with energy.
Truth to tell, Ayrin previously seemed very ordinary no matter how you looked at him, no different whatsoever from those students with ordinary human blood.
But really coming into contact with him, Ciaran had a very strange sensation the moment she started talking with him.
This sensation didn’t come only from the total lack of fear and worry in Ayrin’s eyes, didn’t come only from the apparent feeling there was nothing under the starry skies he feared.
No, there was something else.
She couldn’t tell what it truly was until now. Only when Ayrin’s back almost vanished from her sight, thinking about Ayrin’s spirited smile just then, she finally understood.
No matter how brave and how lacking in fear, when thinking about the constant bitter training paving the road to arcane mastery, thinking about the bitterness of those exercises exceeding their own limits, everyone would be a little scared right?
Even her, thinking of those extreme hardships, those moments even more painful than death, she would feel very uncomfortable.
But when this guy thought of what he was certain to go through, the constant pain he was very soon to going to meet with, he was instead extremely happy, as if he was going to experience many extreme joys. What kind of sicko was that?
"I have to progress faster!"
"I have to condense arcane particles!"
"I have to beat the other members of the team and become a representative for the academy!"
"I have to become stronger!"
Walking toward the Ivy district, Ayrin waved his fist nonstop under the starry skies, soaring spirits written all over his face.
Destroyer of Ice and Fire
Chapter 28: He really has a notebook
Early Morning. Ayrin, looking like he still wasn’t fully awake yet, and Belo, looking abnormally awake, walked on the road leading to the Thinker’s Stone Forest.
Huston had arranged for a test today.
"Where the hell did you go last night after we went into the infirmary?"
"Nowhere, I just strolled around a bit."
"You’re really not the one who took away those people from team Southern Monsoon? The teachers who caught me said that someone took advantage of them being led my way to take the Southern Monsoon members away. I think you took me on purpose to Chris’ place, and then used me as bait for those teachers so you can do your thing."
"Of course it wasn’t me, do I look like someone who’d make use of a friend like this?"
"You look very much like that!"
"…If it were me, would I still be standing here and talk to you safe and sound like nothing happened?"
"There could be some reason, anyway your behavior is too suspicious."
They talked and walked, when Ayrin suddenly saw a touch of red at a fork in the road in front of them. It was Moss. Ayrin happily greeted him. "Moss!"
Moss’s head hung down, thinking whether he was going to meet with yet another miserable disaster in the Notebook Teacher’s class today. He turned his head around when he heard Ayrin’s sudden voice. He saw Ayrin coming excitedly his way; he immediately felt the urge to die. "Little shorty, stay far away from me! Could it be you think you haven’t harmed me enough yet, you still want teacher Huston to think we’re a band?"
Ayrin wasn’t too far behind Moss now. He said to Moss, astonished, "How come you seem even shorter than me?"
Moss’ eyeballs almost fell to the ground as soon as he had a look at Ayrin. He was astounded to find Ayrin truly a little taller than even himself, all of a sudden.
How did the little shorty become even taller than himself!
"Impossible! You must be wearing something! Are you using fake feet!"
Under the shock of this severe psychological blow, Moss immediately pounced on Ayrin’s feet. He squeezed Ayrin’s feet, incredulous, even took off Ayrin’s shoes to see if there was something inside that’d make Ayrin become taller.
What made him crazy was, everything was normal on Ayrin’s feet, there wasn’t anything there.
"Not bad not bad."
Just at that moment, a sinister voice floated in from not too distant a place.
Moss froze, still kneeling in front of Ayrin.
That man standing under the shade of a tree not far away, watching them with an insincere smile, his greasy hair shining, who else could it be if not Notebook Teacher Huston.
"That’s very good, you’ve reached such a level of intimacy already, your feelings are pretty good, even to the point you’ll help each other check the shoes and wear the shoes. I very much admire students with such mutual friendly love, who help and assist each other."
Huston wiped his greasy hair shining under the daylight and laughed maliciously, saying this sentence with a deeply meaningful tone. Then he leisurely turned around and walked inside the Thinker’s Stone Forest.
After staring blankly for a moment, Moss shouted, "Teacher Huston! Teacher Huston, it’s not what you think!"
"I really have nothing to do with these two guys, we’re really not a clique!"
"I was only checking his feet! We’re truly not good friends."
"You think I’m a moron?" A soft cold sneer drifted out from the Thinker’s Stone Forest. "Even feet lovers don’t have the hobby of checking a male’s feet."
"…" Moss really wanted to die.
The vast majority of freshmen arrived before Ayrin and the others, all of them very apprehensive.
Countless legends certified that Teacher Notebook’s tests were as frightening as the monsters inside the Giant Beasts Enclosure. On top of that, no one in previous classes had the guts to offend teacher Huston, but there was an existence like Ayrin in their class who made Huston hysterical. Hence, when Huston’s tall and slender figure emerged among the huge white stones, many freshmen felt their legs shake incontrollably.
Moss, with a face ashen like death, Ayrin, with a face full of excitement, and Belo, without any expression whatsoever on his face, appeared one after another.
"These three guys are up to no good again."
"You just have to look at their expressions to know nothing good’s gonna happen."
"Who knows what method teacher Huston’s going to use this time to sort them out."
"The Notebook Teacher Huston is the teacher who cares the most about face, in the entire academy. Last time they caused him to lose control of his emotions, and he ended up with no face at all, plus the whole academy’s talking about his matter. There’s no way he’ll let go of it."
Imperceptibly, the great majority of students grouped Ayrin, Belo, and Moss together into the same band.
"Alright, here’s to the start of another delightful day."
Huston cleared his throat after seeing every student in attendance, and showed off a posture that he himself believed to be grim yet stylish. He said, "I said it repeatedly in the past couple days, today’s the day we test the result of your training. Everyone must surely be extremely excited about it."
"Excited… More like feels like crying." This was what many freshmen were silently thinking, their heads lowered.
"The motivation and impetus for training comes from seeing your own progress. I, Huston, am the teacher who’s the most expert in the entire academy at teaching students. With my wise and efficient guidance, as long as you don’t slack off, you’ll definitely become a great deal stronger than students from other classes. But the key is you can’t slack off, if you dare not to complete the exercises I talked to you about, humph humph, you already know what’s the outcome." Huston blew his own trumpet for a few sentences, overflowing with spirit, as if he’d entirely shed off last time’s shadows, when Ayrin made him lose his cool.
"Of course I’m also very excited when I think I’m about to check on the results of your training, but there’s a guy among you who’s a bit special, who gets hungry too easily, so I have to take care of him a little bit before we start the test…"
Almost every freshman’s heart thumped as soon as they heard those words, all thinking, chilled to their core, "Here it comes again, it’s finally starting."
"This a specialty from the northern territories I saved for many years, the army jerky. It’s made from the plumpest meat of the snow bears in the snow plains of the north, it’s a good thing that can only be obtained by powerful battlemasters guarding the north or those who go on a mission there. Not only is it extremely rich in nutrition, what’s most important is, it’s also extremely filling. Usually battlemasters can go several days without going hungry when they eat a piece of it."
Huston smiled lightly, his gaze falling wholly on Ayrin. "Ayrin, don’t you get easily hungry, we’ll wait for you to eat this before we start the test."
"Army jerky, he’s got so many tricks…" The gentler Huston’s voice and smile, the more scared many freshmen became inside.
Huston fished out something out from his chest while he spoke.
"This?" All the freshmen felt a little dazed.
Because what Huston had taken out wasn’t an army jerky at all, but a small notebook with a black leather cover that looked like it’d gone through many uses, many places worn very smooth on it.
Huston lowered his head when he felt something a little wrong in the students’ gazes, and immediately said, as if nothing had happened, "Oh, I got the wrong thing." Then he stuffed the little notebook back inside his clothes at lightning speed, pulling out a great piece of jerky instead.
The students stayed blank for a second all at the same time, then they went crazy.
"Did you see that, he really has a notebook!"
"The Notebook Teacher indeed has a little notebook…Ah!"
Huston acted calm and nonchalant. He handed over the great piece of red-brown northern army jerky to Ayrin.
"Do I really have to eat it?" Ayrin looked at the jerky. It seemed very taste, very appetizing, but he was a little hesitant looking at Huston’s honest and upright appearance.
"Of course, it’s my kindly regard." Huston said, exceptionally amiable, "Don’t worry and just eat it, I guarantee on my dignity that it tastes pretty good, there’s absolutely no laxative or poison or anything in it. Otherwise I’d have to take full responsibility if something were to happen to you."
Ayrin looked impatiently at him and said, "Teacher, how about you eat a bit too?"
"You’re too careful. I appreciate a little cautiousness and vigilance however, especially when arcane masters are out on a mission. The more cautious they are the less likely they are to be killed by the enemy," Huston said. He tore a strip from the jerky and ate it, saying while eating, "Everyone should take example on Ayrin’s careful and vigilant attitude."
"Such a hypocrite, he probably means the opposite of every word he says…" A great many freshmen felt a chill run through them.
"It doesn’t taste bad." Ayrin chewed on the jerky and discovered it tasted very good, and it wasn’t as hard as he’d imagined. It had a thick greasy taste, but not the kind so greasy it made you want to retch either.
"I’m so full!" After eating the entire piece of jerky, Ayrin suddenly felt something a little out of place. The jerky seemed to be swelling inside his belly, then he really saw his belly slowly bulge to an alarming size. It looked even more exaggerated than last time when he ate several hundred chicken legs. His stomach also became heavy.
"Alright, now let’s begin the test. Ayrin, you’re first," Huston said as if there was nothing out of the ordinary.
"Hiss…" A collective intake of cold breath rang out.
Every freshman immediately saw through Huston’s plot.
After eating so full and looking like his body was one time heavier than usual, he’d certainly be greatly impeded when taking his test!
This was definitely no ordinary army jerky.
What was that thing. Such a tiny piece actually made a great stomach king like Ayrin bulge into such a state.
"This is simply no army jerky at all. Only the legendary "Giants’ Snack" can produce such an effect. Teacher Huston, you really went overboard." An angry voice rose, a voice many people could recognize without turning their heads as belonging to Rinloran, the one who had the guts to challenge Huston last time.
"Oh? Is that so?"
Huston looked at Rinloran, looking fully apologetic. "It looks like I accidentally took the wrong thing. No matter though, since you know about the "Giant’s Snack," you should know this legendary food from the Giants’ Kingdom back then is extremely nutritious. Eating it is very beneficial."
"Can he still take the test in this state?" Rinloran looked at Huston, his pretty silver hair floating up.
Cold light flashed in Huston’s eyes.
"No matter, I’m alright." Ayrin patted his belly with indifference at this time, looking both a little satisfied and a little worried. "I won’t transform into a giant after eating this giants’ snack right?"
"Of course you won’t, it’ll only make you more muscular, your food taste better. That’s something I saved up for many years, I couldn’t even bear to eat it myself." Huston once again said in a tone that sent an evil chill running through most freshmen, "Now let’s immediately start the test."
Destroyer of Ice and Fire
Chapter 29: The young man who ran for his dream
"Today’s test is very simple."
Out of habit, Huston rubbed his hair that stood straight from too much hair wax, then pointed to a white boulder behind him, as big as a giant. "You just need to run up on it, we’ll just see how many steps you can run on this boulder. Only enough explosiveness and running speed, enough body coordination, will allow you to reach as high as possible on it. According to my usual conventions, you pass the test as long as you can run nine steps in succession on it."
Most students’ faces became black once they heard Huston’s words.
This test was indeed very simple. It called "wall running" in professional terms. You ran toward the sky along a straight wall, that was something many arcane masters very much liked to do, it gave the feeling of climbing the endless skies.
Almost every freshman also clearly knew that many arcane masters with astounding strength and speed could run up on any upright wall in Holy Dawn Academy without using any arcane particle, run all the way to the top of the highest roof.
But nine steps, that was really a bit too hard for new students like them.
This huge boulder Huston had chosen was even a little tilted inward and didn’t have any obvious foothold. It made things even more difficult for them.
"Too despicable, too insidious."
Many freshman started to silently curse Teacher Notebook even harder when they glanced at Ayrin’s belly bulging high.
In this test, the higher you ran, the heavier you fell.
Don’t mention Ayrin not being able to run nine steps, even if he could, with his belly so swollen, would he fall so hard he’d puke out like a fountain?
What the vast majority of freshmen had trouble understanding was, Ayrin actually seemed very excited when he heard Huston’s words, and asked as if he were eager to try, "You can pass with only nine steps? Then teacher Huston, those students you’ve taught who were strong enough to join the academy’s team, how many steps could they run back when they were like us and took this test?"
"So much nonsense!" Huston cursed silently in his mind, but his face maintained its genial appearance as he said all smiles, "The powerful characters of yesteryear were already able to run up fifteen steps when they first took my test."
"Ok, I have to challenge their record!"
Ayrin resolutely clenched his fist. There was only that rock inside his vision now.
The sound of a heavy footstep suddenly rang in this empty space inside the Thinker’s Stone Forest. Everyone’s heart thumped fiercely.
Everyone clearly saw the soil under Ayrin’s feet explode out just like a spindrift.
"How could have such a powerful strength!" Huston’s smile stiffened all of a sudden, his heart filled with a bad premonition.
"Pa!" "Pa!" "Pa!" …
The sound of rapid footsteps banged like a drum, heavily explosive at first then lightening very quickly.
Aryin dashed at flying speed under everyone’s astonished stare, producing a blurry trail behind him.
"How could he have such explosiveness, such speed?" Huston was naturally different from these freshmen, he could ascertain that Ayrin’s strength had entirely exceeded his imagination with the first step of his full-strength dash. And when Ayrin ran faster and faster, his face turned from complacency to complete shock.
Ayrin issued a great excited yell at the same time he landed his first step on the giant white rock.
While the freshmen looked on as if they were watching a monster, he yelled "Ah, Ah!" nonstop and ran nonstop, charging toward the sky!
His body soared up at flying pace. Once at a height that made everyone incredulous, he issued a strange peculiar yell. His body fell down.
What made everyone’s astonished was that he didn’t tumble down. At the highest point he could reach, he’d flipped over and then dropped on the ground, but he merely cushioned his hands on the ground, then stood up without any harm.
"You ran up so many steps, how can you still stand up so steadily when you fall down!"
Huston’s hysterical’s screech echoed in the empty space.
When a man fancied himself a great schemer, but again and again lost to the same person, the ravages to the spirit were truly too great. The current Huston was a perfect example. This Notebook Teacher even began pulling his own hair.
"How many steps did he actually run?"
All the freshmen subconsciously rested their gazes on that huge white boulder.
Dusty footprints were clearly left behind on the white rock.
"One, two, three, four… eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen!"
A shout of alarm rang.
Ayrin was also very single-mindedly counting when Huston’s hysterical voice sounded. When he found out he ran up a full sixteen steps in succession, he immediately yelled out loud with incomparable excitement, "Teacher Huston! Teacher Huston! I ran sixteen steps! I broke the record!"
Huston’s heart was bleeding already, and when he saw Ayrin’s excited look, he felt as if he’d again been stepped on the face.
"Some enemy clan must have sent him on purpose to toy with me, right?"
Such a though emerged inside his brain.
He’d taught a few outstanding students before, figures so strong they sent a chill to his heart when he thought about how strong they were now, and they indeed had ran fifteen or sixteen steps the first time they took the test, but the most important thing was, Ayrin’s belly was ballooned so big at the moment.
What the hell was this guy’s bloodline, did he really train even more painstakingly compared to those guys back then?
"You ran up so many steps, how can you still stand up so steadily when you fall down?" With patches of darkness flitting across his vision, he merely repeated the same sentence, subconsciously.
"I often practiced crashing into trees these past couple days, when I crash against the tree I do a back flip and try my best to land steadily, so now I can land steadily." Ayrin explained in all seriousness.
"Crashing against trees? You don’t properly practice anything else, you practice crashing against trees?"
"No no, I only practice crashing into trees after completing the foundation drills that teacher arranged for us."
"You can even add your own training after completing my foundation training?" Huston kept breathing hard. He thought he was going to lose his mind again if he continued to talk with Ayrin.
"You guys take the test yourselves. Those of you who can’t run nine steps, go run ten laps around the Thinker’s Stone Forest before coming back."
He turned his head away without looking at Ayrin’s face, forcibly withstood the urge to spit blood, told himself to stay calm, then issued his order.
The freshmen started to take the test one by one, too afraid to express any protest.
Stifled cries of pain unceasingly rose one after another, following the sounds of heavy falls.
Very few people could reach nine steps. More and more freshmen left for a run.
The Stone Forest was vast. It was already hard to tell how much distance a single lap covered; ten laps was an inhuman torture. Inside the increasingly diminishing crowd of freshmen, Belo looked like he didn’t care in the least. The eyes under his glasses had been all along locked tight onto Rinloran to the side.
He was very interested in knowing how many steps Rinloran and his obviously high-level elven bloodline could run.
Under his eyes full of expectation, Rinloran finally began his test, began his sprint.
Not a step less or a step more. Rinloran ran nine steps on the huge boulder, then landed on the ground, stood up, and went back to where he was standing before, without a single word.
"He doesn’t want to waste his strength, or did he hold back on purpose?"
Belo mumbled, then started to feel bored. He also started his sprint.
A freshman had already started his own test, but after this freshman ran a few steps, he saw Belo easily overtaking him and running in front of him.
This freshman halted his steps, shocked, then watched Belo run nine steps on the stone like a wisp of smoke, then drop down, his hands behind his back.
Moss was among the last ones to take the test.
Outside the Thinker’s Stone Forest, he’d already suffered a lethal blow, and just now, Ayrin’s score of sixteen steps sent his brain into an even greater blank.
When he joined Holy Dawn Academy, he, who inherited a fraction of giant blood, thought that he would certainly become a legendary arcane master in the history of Holy Dawn Academy, far surpassing his classmates. When he found out Rinloran’s bloodline and talents were even higher than his, he’d already been a little discouraged. And now Ayrin, the one he’d always looked down upon, the one he thought wouldn’t obtain any achievement, the one who he thought was only wasting his tuition fees, was actually powerful to such a degree!
"Moss, come on, you can do it!"
Ayrin exclaimed happily as soon as he saw Moss step up.
Moss was confused already. As soon as he saw Ayrin happily cheer for him, with Huston’s faintly green eyes staring at the side, he knew that no matter what he said in the future, the Notebook Teacher would never believe he wasn’t Ayrin’s and Belo’s good friend.
He didn’t even know how he sprinted, and didn’t know how he ran up the boulder. When he heavily fell back down, he found out he actually ran only seven steps.
All the freshmen completed the test, and all those who didn’t pass it went running around the Stone Forest. Ayrin suddenly asked Huston, "Teacher Huston, I also want to run ten laps, can I?"
Huston stumbled, almost fell off.
"Did my enemies really send you to mess with me?" Huston clenched his teeth and held back words like these inside his mouth. He casually waved his hand, indicating to Ayrin he could do whatever he wanted.
Ayrin immediately ran out in high spirits.
A dazed Moss ran around the Thinker’s Stone Forest. He finally felt free of his worries. Now he could avoid looking at that little shorty who gave him a fatal psychological blow. It was easier being punished to run in comparison.
"Moss, let’s run together!"
A familiar voice rang out however. He turned his head back and immediately jumped away several meters, yelling, "Little shorty, you’re a ghost! You’re haunting me, why do you have to follow me even during my penalty run."
"Stay away from me! I don’t want to see you!"
Not understanding why Moss had such an attitude, Aryin started to sprint, again and again.
"I have to try harder!"
"I have to become stronger!"
"I must condense arcane particles!"
Under the sunlight, many crystalline drops of sweat sprinkled from his running figure.
Destroyer of Ice and Fire
Chapter 30: Force out the potential?
After suffering another heavy blow, Notebook Teacher Huston seemed to spend the entire time in class as if in a dream.
The "Giants’ Snack" was indeed very precious. A piece like that was enough for a team of arcane masters not to worry about food for a week while they were out on a mission.
In some dangerous missions in the wilderness, especially when fighting other arcane masters, many edible things could be where the enemies buried their traps.
He spent the "Giants’ Snack" he’d saved because he wanted Ayrin to fail the test. Then he could punish Ayrin and exhaust him until he ended up more dead than alive. But what he never expected in a hundred years was, Ayrin requested the punishment on his own initiative even after passing the test. He even continuously sprinting at top speed during the penalty run, making him more miserably tired than all the other freshmen.
Huston simply couldn’t understand.
So at sundown, when he announced the end of the class, Huston thought he had to go back and reorganize his thoughts, else he might suspect his own brain of having a problem.
Ayrin’s voice suddenly came to his ears.
Huston turned his head back. Ayrin stood not far away beside him, his face looking exactly like a well-behaved child.
"What else do you want?"
"I wanted to ask teacher Huston how to condense arcane particles as fast as possible."
"What?!" Huston almost fell down face first.
"I heard that although you can’t be regarded as a powerful elite teacher and aren’t very strong when it comes to fighting, you still know your stuff when it comes to arcane particles, you still were among the fastest people to condense arcane particles." Ayrin said with a serious face, "So teacher Huston, can you tell me a few techniques and exercises that’ll make me condense arcane particles faster?"
"Arcane particles? He’s already thinking about this issue at this stage."
"Even if he wants to ask a question, he doesn’t have to say Huston can’t be considered a powerful elite teacher and isn’t all that strong when it comes to a real fight. Notebook Teacher Huston is the one most concerned about face, doesn’t this simply amount to a slap to the face?"
"This is simply a slap to the face."
"You can hit someone, but you can’t hit his face."
"Teacher Huston’s going to go crazy now for sure."
A clamor ran among all the freshmen.
"You…" Huston even felt the urge to cry. He felt as if countless feet had stepped on his face during this short moment.
He only restored his sanity several minutes later.
"Since you don’t leave me any face at all, since you talk to me like this, then don’t blame me for acting vicious and ruthless!"
He roared that in his mind, but he put on a gentle expression on his face. "There are two stages to condensing arcane particles. The first stage is to train your body and spirit to a level sufficient for condensing arcane particles. When the body and spiritual power reach the required level, what follows is the second stage, gathering a high degree of spiritual power and condensing arcane particles. For now, you don’t need to worry about the second stage in your current situation. The only thing you need to worry about is to make your body and spiritual power reach that boundary."
"Mhm mhm!" Ayrin nodded vigorously, thinking that Huston’s explanation indeed made things clearer.
"To complete the first stage, the only way is of course to continuously exceed your own limits with painstaking training, to make your body continuously break through." Huston narrowed his eyes. "If you want to go faster however… If you want to genuinely surpass your own limits, there’s only one way, it’s to make breakthroughs in the things that makes you the most uncomfortable!"
"The things that makes me the most uncomfortable?" Ayrin was a little doubtful.
Huston glanced at his belly and reminded him, "For example, maybe you’re most afraid of hunger? Maybe the feeling of hunter is the most uncomfortable feeling, the hardest to withstand?"
Ayrin suddenly nodded strongly. "That’s right."
"If you previously could resist two hours without eating anything, then just resist for three hours! If you can resist half a day without eating, then just resist a whole day!" Huston firmly brandished his fist at Ayrin. "If you can withstand extreme hunger, and train or fight in such a state, then you’ll be able to continuously surpass your limits, force the last drops of potential out of your body!"
"Back in the days, teacher Huston you also challenged the things that made you the most uncomfortable, that’s what you did?" Ayrin watched Huston with much admiration.
"Of course! If you want to condense arcane particles as fast as possible and become an arcane master in the true sense of the word, then you have to truly squeeze out the power from every tiny particle inside your body. It’s just like a sponge. The drier you squeeze it, the more water it can absorb the next time!" That was what Huston’s mouth said, but what he thought inside was, if I can’t sort you out, starving you until you’re half dead works as well.
"Thank you teacher, I’ll definitely work hard!"
At night, Liszt sat on tree branch on top of a tree inside the forest of giant trees.
This branch was only as thick as a thumb. Sitting on it, Liszt continuously swayed with the night wind. It seemed this branch could break at any moment, or perhaps Liszt could fall from this branch any second.
Unexpectedly, neither of these situations happened.
A peculiar wind rolled out of the forest like a transparent python, falling opposite Liszt. Carter’s figure emerged on a thin branch in front of him.
Carter stood on this tiny branch, extremely steadily, as if he were a heavy stone. The curious thing was, the tiny branch under his feet also seemed to have turned into a heavy stone, set fixedly in place without moving a single bit.
Throwing a glance at Carter who just appeared in front of him, Liszt stretched his back and said lazily, "Don’t you think that’s a big waste of arcane particles?"
"I’m not like you, I’m not a monster who’s ready to fight in peak condition at all times. In a place as peaceful as Holy Dawn Academy, it doesn’t matter much if I waste a few arcane particles." Carter smiled, then he became serious again. "Huston conducted the wall running test today with that group of freshmen. Ayrin ran sixteen steps on that boulder we very often ran on."
"He’s so amazing?" Liszt clapped his hands and smiled. "It’s truly a good result that surpasses expectations." He didn’t seem to think much of it when Carter cast a glance his way.
"What’s surpasses expectations even more is the speed of his progress and the speed of his recovery." Carter solemnly said, "When I saw him a few days ago, it would have been impossible with his strength and speed to run more than ten steps. Also, you must have have seen that as well, his body recovers much faster than an ordinary person. That means he can train for longer compared to others, or you could also say he possesses more training time compared to others."
"Even a physique like Minlur’s seems worse than his." Liszt rubbed his chin, smiling. "Such a recovery ability, normally it only fits pure barbarian bloodlines, but he’s obviously not from a barbarian bloodline, so I don’t understand that part either."
"Not only his healing ability, even his learning ability is especially strong." Carter sucked a deep breath in and told Liszt, "I taught him the "Explosive Air Surge" not long ago. It turns out I only had to guide him a couple times before he more or less grasped it. Now it’s only a matter of fine-tuning details about regulating the amount of power."
"What you mean is, you suspect him of having dragon blood?" Liszt shook his head. "If it were a dragon bloodline, our library’s senior Plum would have seen it a long time ago. His astounding physical strength and learning ability indeed makes you think of high-level dragon bloodlines, but you must also have noticed that the arcane power he uses doesn’t have the might of dragon bloodlines. For high-level dragon bloodlines, even during the Awakening stage, the might of the gathered arcane power when using arcanist techniques is visibly much stronger than ordinary bloodlines."
"Correct, the strongest part about dragon bloodlines is that their arcane power and arcane particles are especially strong. When using the same secret skill, the might will be much stronger than other people." Carter agreed with what Liszt said, but his face was even more bewildered. "Then what kind of mysterious bloodline is it in the end?"
"I wouldn’t rack my mind so hard about this issue if I were you. This question will naturally be answered in the future." Liszt smiled. "Anyway, we’ve ascertained he’s special enough. Just like Chris, he’s a genius hard to come by in our Holy Dawn Academy. That’s enough."
"You can say that, but every time I see this guy’s attitude, I can’t help thinking about this issue." Carter shook his head, vexed. "Last question. It turns out senior Plum already took a fancy to Chris and taught her his secret skill. It’s obvious you also appreciate her very much, and she obviously has the bravery to lay her life down in order to achieve victory. She should be very suitable for your secret skill Holy Gate of Life, why don’t you try teaching her and see whether she can learn it?"
"The reason’s very simple." Liszt said, "Say I teach her. If she grasps it, she would certainly have the courage to use it, but her body can’t bear it. She’d die."
"Explosive Air Surge!"
In an empty spot inside the forest of huge trees, his body once again drenched in sweat from head to toe, Ayrin suddenly swung with his left hand while punching with his right.
With a deep and forceful chant, the movement of his hands became so fast they created series of blurs.
"Boom." An explosive sound.
When his body reached its limit under the fists’ momentum, he once again put all his strength into his fists. He almost seemed to shoot out something material, his body trembling all over from the recoil.
A mass of air visible to the naked eye charged out from his fist like a blast wave, bombing on the trunk of the great tree in front of him.
A white hole appeared on the hard trunk. Many dozen pieces of tree bark flew out.
Ayrin’s eyes were full of little stars when he looked at the bark cracked open.
"My belly’s so hungry."
The next second, he once again held his belly, a pitiful miserable expression on his face.
Now, the thirst and hunger in the minute particles inside his body didn’t feel sated anymore. That "Giants’ Food" had already been digested after one day, and now his belly once again felt empty. He was so hungry he felt a little wan.
Right at this moment, he heard a strange sound come from inside the forest, vaguely, sounding like Belo’s voice.