Awed by the demonstration of power, Daneel chose to stay silent and admire the early morning chilly air.
Viuda took him back the same place he had left from, the open area in front of the master's cottage.
But this time, 20 or so kids similar to his age stood there shivering in the cold.
As soon as he landed, all of the kids stared at Viuda, hoping that this beautiful woman would be their instructor.
Instead, she gave them a brief smile before gliding away. All of the kids followed her with their eyes as they marveled at this amazing sight.
As if on cue, the master's door opened and Felix came out, dressed similarly but in a black waistcoat this time.
"Good morning, trainees. All of you have enrolled in the Fists of Justice Training Program. Although we have the least fee, we are also the strictest there is, with the lowest passing rate in all of the academies and training halls in the kingdom of Lanthanor. If you choose to quit midway, the Golden Lan that you paid will not be refunded. If you fail to impress the instructors and are deemed to have failed at the end of the program, again, your fee will not be refunded. The only way to earn back the money is to pass and become part of the training hall, thus becoming capable of being taken on missions as apprentices by senior members.
The training will make you sweat, bleed and scream for your mother. Whatever you say or do, it will not stop unless you agree that you are losers who cannot undergo whatever it takes to change their fate. Good luck."
Another man had exited from the cottage behind Felix. It was Elenav, who winked at Daneel before shouting, "Everyone follow me to Energized Training Chamber(ETC)-1. It's time to check your potential."
Daneel had no idea what an ETC was but he followed Elenav along with all of the others. As he did so, he noticed that the rest of the kids were not much better off than him. Most of them wore clothes with holes in them, faded by wearing them again and again. Only 1 or 2 were wearing new clothes but again, they were nothing compared to the shiny fabrics he had seen on some people in the marketplace.
Everyone trudged forward with their luggage on their back before reaching a round one-storeyed building. The words ETC-1 were written on the building and a shining silver stone in the shape of crystal with jagged edges poked out of the top of the building in the center.
"This is an Energised Training Chamber, or simply called an ETC. What do you kids know about Ether?", asked Elenav coming to a stop in front of the door to the building.
One of the kids who was dressed relatively well hastened to answer, "Ether is one of the wondrous materials produced by the Earth which lets someone refine their body and gain power."
"Good. As he said, Ether is just one of those materials that lets one to refine their body and mind. ETC is simply a chamber in which a huge block of low grade Ether is slowly dispersed into the air. ETC-1 is for Neophyte/Amateur Humans.
"As for body refinement, I will give you a short introduction so listen up. Body refinement is the process of smelting the weapon that is you body in the fire that is Ether or any other material. From stage-1 to stage-9, the body undergoes 9 rounds of refinement which will enable it to hold internal energy, which is the barrier that separates one from the Warrior realm.
"Body potential is the ability of your body to absorb the energy in materials like Ether. These are simply designated by 3 grades-low, mid and high. In the ETC, just calm your mind and breathe in deep. Concentrate on letting your breath reach your lungs, from where an energy is extracted by you. This energy should then be circulated throughout the body uniformly until each and every part is smelted or smothered by the energy. I will be personally watching each one of you to judge your potential and guide you through the process."
After this lengthy explanation, Elenav proceeded to open the wooden doors of the chamber.
A blast of misty air came out as soon as the door was opened. Daneel couldn't help but greedily breathe in, relishing in the incredible feeling felt by him with each breath.
Alternate absorption method detected with additional benefit of increasing potential of host's body and rate of absorption. Phenomena Analysis Module(PAM)-1 requires 90 days to output the method, provided that host continues training in the conventional method. Would you like to begin development?]
This was exactly what Daneel had been waiting for. Ever since he had bought the PAM-1 from the store, he had been waiting for the first prompt which would mean that he would have a technique for himself for free just by observing someone. Only, he had never expected that it would be such an incredible technique-one that could increase his potential!
"YES", he shouted in excitement.
[Development begun. 89 days, 23 hours , 59 minutes and 56 seconds until completion]
With a broad smile on his face, Daneel proceeded inside with a spring in his step that hadn't been there before.
As soon as everyone had walked in, they noticed that there were training mats placed all around the round room. The air was misty, almost like the atmosphere that one would see in a steam bath.
Quietly, each of them sat down on a mat.
"Sit, lie down, stand, be however you want. Just be comfortable enough to forget your body and concentrate on your breath."
Hearing this, some of the kids lay down on the mats which were pretty big and soft to the touch.
Daneel decided to sit in a meditating position. As soon as he did so though, the system sounded again in his head.
[Complexity of development has crossed set parameters. All resources will be henceforth diverted to development. Host must note that the system will be unavailable for this period of time. Would you like to stop the development?]
Daneel was faced with a bit of a dilemma. He could either proceed with the development of the technique or stop it and have the system with him. Seeing Elenav pass by checking on everyone, an idea struck him as he raised his hand, calling to him.
"What's up, kid?", asked Elenav, coming towards him.
Standing up, Daneel asked the question that had been bothering him.
"Can body potential be improved in any way? Or is it decided from the moment of birth?"
Not expecting such an insightful question to come from a 12-year old, Elenav stared at Daneel a bit before answering.
"Maybe, but only in the rarest of absorption techniques. I cannot even give a definite answer because there are only rumors that some techniques practiced by those in the inner city have this function, although it is said to cause horrible deformations and turn people into monsters."
Seeing Daneel's wide open eyes, he hastened to explain, "That's why these are rumors. I for one don't believe in them. There are also some materials which are said to have the effect of increasing potential, but these haven't been found in many centuries according to the master. Don't be worried, kiddo. I'm sure you'll have good potential. Even if you don't, it is something that many have overcome with sheer willpower and hard work. Just believe in yourself, Daneel."
Towards the end, Elenav ruffled his hair and gave him a broad smile. For the first time, Daneel wondered if this was what having a big brother felt like.
"The technique in development won't have side effects like turning me into a monster will it?", he asked the system, apprehensively.
[No. The technique will have no side effects.], answered the system, removing all hesitation from Daneel.
"Then begin development. Notify me as soon as it is done."
[Affirmative. System will be unavailable for 89 days, 23 hours , 51 minutes and 41 seconds. Diverting all resources to PAM-1.]