༺ Group Assignment (4) ༻
A week went by.
There was Hua Ran’s truancy in the middle but like how the ground hardens after the rain, our team worked together in perfect cooperation to finish the report after the incident and decided on ‘Lan Na Zha’ for our class demonstration.
“Hey, can you have a look at my posture for me? I don’t think the movement from the bottom to the middle is smooth enough.”
“There needs to be some delay between the movement of your body and your hands.
Otherwise the spearhead is not going to move with a bounce.”
Their skills with spearmanship advanced rapidly over the last week.
Naturally, a short practice didn’t mean they could use it in a real battle but at least they would have a better comprehension of Lan Na Zha and know how to respond to it.
Lower your grip a little.
And make sure a part of the spear is right next to your ribs.”
After that day, Hua Ran also became fairly obedient.
Just like that, we finished today’s practice and I was writing the daily records to submit later on as a part of the assignment when Alicia walked up to me instead of returning home.
Are you going to boil the Mandrake again today?”
I’m going to suck all the essence dry so you should have some for yourself later.”
Even though the Mandrake was now so dry that I would barely suck anything out of it, there were still things for me to do in this empty plot of land.
While boiling the Mandrake and making sure I was making the most out of this precious herb, I started carving more ‘rune letters’ onto the land.
Meanwhile, Alicia brought some pieces of meat from somewhere and made it into a skewer to cook next to the pot.
After perhaps about an hour, we deemed that it was about time and stood up around the center.
“Let’s start off slow.”
I tossed the practice spear that I had been using until now.
Alicia picked up her Demon-Slaying Sword whereas I picked up my Silver Spear.
They had already gotten the non-lethalizing spell at the training rooms.
｢Crushing Steel, Three Paths.｣
｢Two-faced Ominous Snake: Dragon Blood｣
The two blades collided.
In the following bout, Alicia almost allowed a graze to her wrist so she quickly parried the spear up.
“I thought we were starting off slow!”
“This is slow.”
The opening stab of the Ominous Snake.
Making use of the spear’s ability to carry out a quick stab in succession, it was a skill that aimed to halt the opponent’s weapon with the first and stab the opponent with the second.
Compared to Distorted March which was more about controlling the pace of the battle, it was a rather simpler skill that was better suited for a consecutive use.
The spear will always be faster than a sword in a stab.”
“Wow, spears are amaaazing.
You have been saying that the whole time.”
“You can be as sarcastic as you want after you finally beat me.”
Alicia prepared herself in a middle stance.
In a usual duel, she would follow through with a safer attack like Advancing Fang or Flying Dragon but Alicia was slightly irritated.
｢Singular Sword of Arden｣
｢Fastest Slash, Instant Flash.｣
The sword carrying an abundant cluster of aura flew in at a ridiculous speed.
Rearing Head of Venomous Dragon was the only skill in my kit that could match off against that speed but my body wasn’t warmed up enough to use an extreme art already.
Thus, my only option was to respond with a simple counter-attack.
｢Six Ways of the Spear｣
｢Third Style, Lan Na Zha｣
Deviate the path of the opponent’s weapon with Outer Trap [Lan], press [Na] and stab [Zha].
She lost from this move back in the hunting grounds but…
｢Singular Sword of Arden｣
｢Falling Fist, Corruption｣
By blocking the stab with Falling Fist, she stabbed in line with the shaft of the spear as the tip of the sword barely missed my nose by a hair’s breath.
That fluent use of skills reminded me of Lunia Arden.
“How was that? You were caught off guard right?”
Alicia seemed excited from catching me off guard.
Even though it was a bit problematic that she was going ‘Hooray~!’ with a fist in the air in the middle of a fight, I let that slip.
“That was as smooth as Ms.
“It was great.
Now, shall we raise the tempo by a little?”
“Ehk? N, no? I think this is fine.”
｢Six Ways of the Spear｣
｢Fourth Style, Spinning Heaven｣
Accelerating the spear, I swung it in circles as it left behind a flashy set of after-images.
– Swish! Swish!
It accelerated even more the more it spun.
The potential changes to the path of this movement were more complex than any other styles of Six Ways of the Spear.
Alicia’s pupils followed the trajectory of the spear.
Left? Right? Or was it up, or down? Whatever it is, it wasn’t something that could be seen with naked eyes no matter how good of a dynamic vision you had…
❰Eyes of the Boundary❱
…Or maybe not?
The sword strike collided with Spinning Heaven and stopped the spear.
That just then… Wasn’t the Domain.
It was just an extreme increase to her dynamic vision which was just one of the additional functions of Eyes of the Boundary.
“Those eyes can even see through the trajectory of Spinning Heaven, huh.”
It was a fearsome ability that was as expected of one that allowed you to see through the gap between dimensions.
It seemed that she was easily able to catch up to the speed of someone like me.
“Hehe, as long as I can stop it, you won’t be able to use that dizzy skill right?”
“What a massive improvement.
This oppa here is in tears.”
“We’re the same age though?”
I had to test something, to see how good of a dynamic vision she had.
｢Six Ways of the Spear｣
Her pupils contracted and trembled.
In an instant, the surrounding air turned dry as an explosive surge of heat pounced at her.
｢Spinning Heaven: Second Move – Rotating Demon Spear｣
She was still following my speed but Spinning Heaven turned increasingly faster with more spins.
How long would she last?
｢Void Spinning Heaven, Turbulent Spear.｣
The acceleration knew no end.
People watching from the side might think of my current form as that of a rampaging train with a malfunctioning brake.
Spinning Heaven was one that was supposed to be difficult to deal with because of its unpredictable path and fanciness but at this point, it was like a chariot that forced its way through everything with sheer violence.
Alicia was bounced off after a clear ding.
It wasn’t strong enough to fling her all the way back there, so she must have thrown herself back by using the momentum of the spear.
As soon as she landed on the ground, she sheathed the Demon-Slaying Sword back into the scabbard.
It was the signal flare marking her intrusion into the Domain.
The world paused leaving only the two of us behind in the dark dimension.
❰Singular Sword of Arden, Domain Severance❱
Her sword dashed out of the scabbard.
Fighting in response to that was the soaring snake.
Looking back on my fight with Lunia Arden during the interim exam, that Domain was something which both Lunia and I could only ‘perceive’.
Even inside that half-assed Domain, Lunia was half a step faster than me.
However, Alicia Arden was a real user of Domain Severance.
She was the gifted prodigy who was permitted to take a full step forward inside the Domain.
She was too fast.
My spear was definitely slower than Alicia’s sword but the difference…
｢Soaring Snake: Rearing Head of the Venomous Dragon｣
The two steel weapons collided as a roar that appeared to be made by the screaming dimension echoed across.
In truth, that was just the clashing noise of a sword and a spear.
One of the weapons was pushed back with an explosive thud.
The one that was pushed back was my spear but Alicia was the one with a dumbfounded look on her face instead.
Korin, that just then…”
“Was that about… Half a step?”
“It was more than that! It’s a lot better than before!”
Alicia said in excitement and gave a clap in joy as if this was a matter that concerned herself.
This wasn’t my first time dueling against Alicia as a practice.
Starting off slow, we would get ourselves warmed up before entering the Domain.
Of course, against Alicia who had a full-fledged Eyes of the Boundary and Domain Severance, I could not come out on top with my half-assed interaction with the Domain.
There was in fact an even bigger difference inside the Domain between me and her, compared to the one I had with Lunia.
“The more we practice, I can feel your Domain being more exquisite, Mr.
It’s surprising that you can get so much stronger in such a short period of time…”
Alicia seemed surprised despite being a complete user of the Domain herself.
That implied that my use with the Domain had come closer to a ‘full step’.
The only reason I could grow so much even though I couldn’t even take half a step forward inside the Domain until recently was because of a specialty.
It was a specialty that increased the likelihood of entering the Domain while at the same time amplifying my comprehension of the Domain with every entry.
My rapid improvement was only thanks to this ability that I earned as a reward of the Precept after clearing Alicia Arden’s scenario quest.
“Thanks for all your help.
Can you do a bit more?”
“Hmm… I think that’ll be a bit difficult.”
Alicia replied with a troubled look on her face while showing me her shivering right arm.
Her body wasn’t able to withstand the weight of the Domain.
Unlike me who still wasn’t perfect, Alicia was taking a complete step inside the Domain every time so she must be experiencing a much more serious backlash.
“Is it still hard to withstand the backlash?”
I don’t think I can use it twice.”
“Well, that’s normal because any movement inside the Domain does burden your body.”
Even weapons made out of steel tended to be crushed after moving inside the Domain and human bodies weren’t any different.
Although Alicia had a body that was on the level of a Grade 2 Knight, Domain Severance required an absurdly tough body.
“Don’t forget to train everyday.
Have milk and anchovies, and I’ll give you some Mandrake teas as well so drink them everyday.
They’ll make your bones tough.”
“I feel like you treat us like kids sometimes, Mr.
“Of course, because you’re a kid.
You are not an adult are you?”
“You say that, but you are not an adult either right, Mr.
“I’m allowed to say that though.”
“What is that even supposed to mean?”
My mental age is already over 30, buddy.
“Well… You are very different from other boys though.”
“How should I say this… you’re like an old man? Like an uncle?”
Why? Why do all the young girls consider me an uncle?
“Can you try calling me oppa?”
“W, where is this suddenly coming from?”
“This oppa here doesn’t look that old, okay? I’m a teenager in my youth!”
“Maybe it’s things that you say that make you look like an uncle?”
“…I am older though so it’s oppa.
Just try calling me oppa.”
Looking back, even when I was going to church, I was a church uncle and not a church oppa, wasn’t I? What the heck?
Even though I first went to church after leaving the military… And even though I was an assistant teacher of the teenage kids… I was still only 25 back then, and was in the peak of my youth!
You… Are more like, umm… A father or a mother I would say.”
Isn’t that even older than an uncle? Do I really look that old?
“Why are you suddenly talking about a father?”
“This might not be the most pleasant thing to hear but… I used to grow without needing anything, but I don’t think anyone really liked me or anything.”
The current family head, Jade Arden and his wife weren’t cruel individuals so her environment itself shouldn’t have been that impoverished.
But whether they had love for her or not was a different issue.
“Father always clicked his tongue after seeing me and, umm… I don’t think I’ve ever talked to my step-mother.”
There was no way that the members of the Arden family would be happy with an illegitimate child that suddenly came from outside.
Although they raised her up as a part of their duty, none of them would have acted as a proper adult for her.
The only reason Alicia could grow like this (despite her low self-esteem) was because her older sister used to take good care of her.
“You see, I really liked my sister.
She was the only one who talked to me; the only one who noticed the change in my height… And she was the only one who patted my head.”
Allicia gave out a soft smile in reminiscence.
“Sister… Hmm, she was like a father.
I went to the dentist with her… And my first birthday present ever was also from her.”
She slowly flipped the meat skewers.
“When I think about it, all my memories that others would have had with their fathers were all with my sister.
I went off topic but what I was trying to say, is that you are similar to my older sister.”
“Looking at our gender, isn’t Lunia the mother and I the father?”
That’s not it, Mr.
Of course you’re closer to a mother!”
But that’s not what our gender suggests, Ms.
Korin is a mom! You are more like a mom! Actually, maybe I should introduce you to my sis… No.
That doesn’t sound good.
I’m not doing that, ever.”
Well, that was very serious… Was I that bad?
“…Why can’t I just be an oppa?”
“We’re the same age though?”
“Umm hello? This is not making any sense.
So you mean mom’s okay but oppa isn’t? Just call me oppa, and I will seriously buy you a meal.”
Alicia said with a wink which made me want to drive a fist onto her head.
You said I was a mom right? A few pats of love are okay, aren’t they?
Kids these days…
Call me mom.”
“Yes, my dear daughter.”
“Please give me some money.”
Seeing Alicia showing me her open palms with sparkling eyes made me fume from my nostrils.
– Uahhht! Please don’t drill your fist into my head! I, it hurts! Kuaahkk?!
“Oh right! Mr.
What was the thing you did during that fight?”
“Spinning Heaven! When you were using that, you suddenly became super—”
Bringing a finger to her lips, I made her close her mouth.
“It’s a secret.”
Everyone should have a hidden trump card or two right?
Time flew by and it was mid-May already – the first week of our group assignment presentations.
The first group began their presentation and would continue in ascending order.
Now, what will the spearmanship newbies talk about? It was quite an interesting wait.
I am Feleis, the group leader of Group 1.”
Three of his teammates were right behind Feleis, the group leader.
Looking at their spears… Hoh, they were carrying the long spears of the east.
Were they going to demonstrate Pointing Spearmanship? Or something stemming from Eight Trigrams like mine?
“The one we will be showcasing today is the Five Starry Spears.”
“What kind of spearmanship is the Five Starry Spears?”
“Right! So it’s a group spearmanship of the east that is excellent for hunting demonic beasts in correlation with the group members.”
Ahh… As expected of a newbie.
Please show us a demonstration.”
The four members of Group 1 including Feleis stood in a formation and showed the class a demonstration.
– Hahp! Haht!
The four of them displayed their harmonious teamwork by stabbing, which was the most fundamental basic of group spearmanship.
“Hmm, not bad.
Feleis had a bright look on his face after receiving Fermack’s compliment.
It was a natural response because they had been working on it for 2 weeks.
“I will now try to break through your formation.
Please try to block me.”
After wearing his practice gauntlets, Fermack walked up to the stage.
Even though they were nervous, the four members of Group 1 held onto their spears and pointed their spearheads at Fermack.
“If you last 10 seconds, I will give you full marks for this assessment.”
– Kang kang!
The gauntlets gave a noisy alarm by clicking against each other.
After that, Fermack postured himself again as Group 1 became all the more tense.
Fermack Daman dashed into the formation as Feleis in the lead responded in time.
But when Fermack’s fist parried his spear into the ceiling, the spear was powerlessly flung up and took a long time to come back down.
“F, fifth Formation!”
The remaining three reacted by swinging down their long and straight spears which was a similar type to my own.
The spears that were about to land on Fermack’s shoulders ended up hitting strange places after being misdirected by his fancy footwork.
❰Down-ducking Boost Jab❱
One of the members of Group 1 fell back without being able to block the light jab.
One of the other ones tried to trip Fermack with the spear by following the formation principles but Fermack retreated like a slithering snake before bouncing back like an elastic band.
❰Southpaw Boost Combination❱
His straight punch struck one of the students as he followed through with several jabs and hooks.
The group members all fell down in less than 10 seconds.
Although Fermack had been holding back, they should have trouble standing back up for now.
“I do not know much about Five Starry Spears.
But group spearmanship is something that requires every one of you to be in harmony with each other.
And in order to be in harmony, you must learn the basic formation first.”
He was right on the mark.
As you could tell from the name, Five Starry Spears, this was a group spear formation designed to have 5 people in 1 group.
“Of course, there are probably other formations for 4 and 3 people in case there are casualties, and I can see that that’s where your focus has been.
However, you must have acknowledged the fact that you weren’t skilled enough to demonstrate it.”
Alternative plans were alternative plans for a reason.
Besides, the users had to be proficient users of the spear to maintain the formation.
“It was great that you chose a group formation.
As for the practice… There were some unfortunate elements but it is still a pass.
B- sounds okay.
Do you have any objections?”
“… We do not.”
B- wasn’t a bad grade but Professor Fermack was known for giving good marks.
Since the Academy had a relative evaluation system, it wasn’t a high enough mark for them to be satisfied with.
After Group 1, it was Group 2’s turn to present their spearmanship.
“We have chosen the killing move of the North, Nine Dragons Destruction! The name is because it looks as if there are 9 dragons rampaging around—”
– I thought this was supposed to be a killing move!!
“The skill is needlessly fancy and you haven’t even properly mastered it.
Let’s refrain ourselves from copying the strongest moves from the start just because they look cool.
Group 2 that was way too mesmerized by fancy moves was quickly disqualified.
Ehew… Kids were kids I guess.
“Next up is Group 3.
Leader of Group 3, Student Korin Lork.
Please come up to the stage.”
My group members.
Jaeger, Alicia and Hua Ran each walked to the stage after me.
Our spears were all shorter spears that could also be used as javelin.
“It says your group will be demonstrating a move from Eight Trigrams, Student Korin.
What exactly will you be demonstrating?”
“It is Lan Na Zha of Eight Trigrams.”
“Is it a skill that exists in Eight Trigrams?”
Well to be exact, it’s one of the common skills shared across many spear disciplines.”
Blocking the opponent’s weapon and pressing on it before stabbing – whether it be swords or spears, skills were in fact quite similar to each other.
A bit vague right Mr.
Fermack? You’re feeling uncertain, aren’t you? I know.
Then please show us your demonstration.”
We straightened our spears as we had practiced.
Alter the path of the incoming attack.
Press on the opponent’s weapon.
Stab the unguarded opponent.
This was one of the fundamental moves of the spear that proactively made use of the strengths of a long weapon and its reach.
This was Lan Na Zha.
Hua Ran… pass.
She must have practiced a lot.
– Clap clap clap!
There were no problems from what I could see.
It’s simple but has a very profound use to it.”
Professor Fermack walked up to us while clapping at our demonstration.
Now that the demonstration was over, it was time for an actual practice.
“Let me get my group members to…”
You can be the only one.
That’ll be enough.”
I was working my ass off trying to teach these kids for the past 2 weeks though? What was all that hard work for? Well, it’s not that I couldn’t see his motive though.
A high-achieving graduate of the northern Berkut guardian academy that came from the Dingle Peninsula of the northern continent.
As a former Grade 1 Knight of the El Rath Kingdom, he was one of the renowned powerhouses of the modern times that killed countless demons.
He was known for being a master at high-speed close combat.
He was a powerhouse that even Lunia Arden might have trouble defeating in a close combat fight.
Spear was a weapon that was stronger with a relative distance between each other.
Even a skilled swordsman had trouble diving into the range of a spear let alone someone who used gauntlets.
However, he had Rune Magic which could flip the situation on its toe.
“Here we go.”
[ᚱ] – Raidho
He shortened the distance in a flash by using the short-distance acceleration rune spell.
Even though he hadn’t been using it against other students, he was now using it against me.
❰Ducking Boost In-dash❱
He was fast.
Fermack fiercely kicked off the ground as if trying to crumble the stage and rapidly shortened the gap before posturing himself for a punch.
Fermack looked like he was readying himself for a right hook but there was something I knew that others didn’t.
He was left-handed.
His left foot was the one in charge of maneuvering his body.
❰Southpaw Jet Boost❱
｢Six Ways of the Spear｣
｢Third Style, Lan Na Zha｣
Fermack, who threw a left jab instead of a right hook which seemed to be the obvious choice, was surprised by my unhesitant response to his left punch.
The gauntlet was pressed down by the spear with a clank through Lan and Na as I continued through with Zha, the stab.
He hurriedly leaned back but even that wasn’t enough for him to escape from the long reach of the spear so he had to parry it away with his right hand.
“How was it?”
Fermack silently gazed at me for a while.
He must be very skeptical.
Until now, he had only been using his right hand and had been disguising himself as right-handed.
But in truth, he was left-handed, so him choosing to go with the Southpaw Style just then instead of the orthodox one was to catch me off guard.
My quick reaction was a sign that I was aware of him being a southpaw.
What do you think this means, huh? My dear Martial Nephew?
“…That was magnificent, Group 3.
I could tell that everyone had been working their hardest and your understanding of the basic spear skills were exceptionally high.”
Even though he was talking about one thing, his doubtful eyes were still on me.
How did I know he was left-handed? Why was I using ‘Six Ways of the Spear’?
He must be very curious, but I wasn’t going to tell him just yet.
“You might think we’re talking about fancy skills when we say profound secrets but you can say these fundamental skills are the real profound secrets.”
After receiving the best set of praises, we finished our group assignment demonstration.
At the end of that lesson…
May I please talk to you for a bit?”
“It is just a 1 on 1 consultation.
It’s nothing serious.”
Fermack Daman called me to his office with a very serious look on his face.
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