༺ Korin Lork(1) ༻
Most of the facilities of Merkarva Academy were available for free. The student cafeteria was cheaper than the fast food restaurants outside, and although there were different tiers for the dormitory, they did not charge any money.
Since the students were sometimes dispatched to dangerous missions under the name of work experience, the Academy gave utmost support for everything else.
The ‘training rooms’ was one of them.
In this academy where students were given a lot of free time, the training room which was open for all the students was the most recommended facility out of the entire campus.
“Is there a room?”
“Yes, there… Freshman?”
The staff at the reception tilted his head after seeing my student ID card. It was understandable for him to be confused because it would have been rare to see a freshman come to the training room on the first day of the admission.
After all, it was strange for freshmen to even know about the training room.
“What size… would you like?”
“Please make it XL.”
“Is there a weapon that you would like to borrow?”
“Do you have a spear? It’d be great if it was around 2 meters.”
“So the normal one. There are all sorts of weapons in the weapon container, so please feel free to take them as you wish.”
“Do you have an elemental body as well?”
“An elemental body? Uhh… we do but…”
The staff tilted his head. He seemed curious about how I got to know about that, but there was another thought mixed into his gaze;
It was the thought that it would be meaningless even if I were to take it.
After changing into a more comfortable outfit, I picked up a spear and went inside, and was welcomed by a gym that was bigger than most stadiums.
– Kaang! Kang!
Waiting for me inside were all sorts of savage noises which were made by the students training themselves.
The training rooms looked like a tennis court where every student could train in their own rooms. It was wide open and was only divided by glass panes.
Of course, there weren’t enough rooms for all the students of the academy to use so you had to be quick on busy hours like the weekend.
In other words, considering how rowdy the academy was due to the recent addition of freshmen, right now was the only chance to use such a luxurious room by myself.
I tried swinging the training spear which was relatively sharp. In the previous iteration, I used to swing around a spear everyday.
It seemed that I was unexpectedly quite talented at using spears.
『You started too late, and you must train harder to make up for it.』
I only got to learn spearmanship after getting an official master introduced to me by Park, but that was already very late.
“Wake up. Time to get to work.”
Placing the small egg I received from the front reception on the ground, I tapped it a few times.
This was an object that was possessed by an elemental. In this world, elementals could manifest themselves in 2 ways.
The first was by materializing their bodies by receiving mana from an elementalist after an official contract. In this case, they would add flesh to their astral bodies and allow me to see them as well.
The second was by possessing objects like the one in front of me. In this guardian academy which encouraged students to pursue an intense training session, they provided various elemental bodies that were okay to be broken after a contract with the Spirit Realm.
– Hehe! Hehe!
Along with the sound which resembled the chuckling voice of a child, wings began to appear behind it.
The elemental body floated up with an intimidating set of noises.
The elemental possessing this egg was a common low-grade wind elemental. But due to the physical body, it was as fast as a mid-grade elemental despite having no way of fighting back.
“Oi, look at that.”
“What is it?”
“There’s a freshman training with an elemental body.”
I could feel the gazes of the senior students of the academy that were using the training room. The emotion concealed behind their voices was not surprise but mockery at the bravado of a junior.
“Don’t you start that at like the 2nd semester?”
“He probably heard it from somewhere.”
As they said, freshmen generally started training with an elemental body starting from the 2nd semester, and the reason for that was quite simple.
It was because it would be meaningless to make students try something impossible.
The elemental body easily dodged my thrusted spear. It wasn’t just a dodge either – after reading the trajectory of my spear, it shifted its body at the last second to dodge the spear with a gap of 0.1 centimeters to make fun of me.
“There are plenty of 2nd year students who find it hard against wind elementals. What does that freshman think he is?”
That was why elemental bodies were only used starting from the second semester – the superior cognitive ability and the overwhelming dodging ability complemented by the physical body itself were ridiculous.
Telling a 1st year student to catch that was the same as commanding a newborn baby to race against a bicycle. It might be possible for famous geniuses but it was so difficult that most average students would not even be able to reach it after becoming a 2nd year student.
I swung my spear again but both the timing and the speed fell short. The elemental body easily dodged it to a corner and instead drove its body into my forehead. It was clearly playing around with me.
It had no offensive ability and thus didn’t hurt very much but the dejection left behind by the sense of defeat was not small.
However, I wasn’t discouraged because this was just a test for me to retrieve the senses I had in my previous iteration.
‘If I was going to be discouraged by something like this, I wouldn’t have pledged to save the world.’
I at least wanted to improve my spearmanship back up to the basic level.
Thinking that, I was preparing myself to thrust the spear one more time when a bright voice echoed from the entrance and reached my ears.
“Hi, everyone! You are working hard as always!”
“You are quite early today. Are you here for training?”
“Nn nn! There was something I’ve been doing during the holiday! Oh right, do you want some snacks?”
Marie unhesitatingly opened her basket of snacks. Endlessly coming out of the basket were steamed potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes and seasonal vegetables.
“You must have been working hard. Here you go. A wet towel!”
“Uh, uhh… Thank you.”
A 2nd year student of the Knight Department blushed while receiving the wet towel from Marie, who soon also walked up to me.
“Junior. I remember you. We saw each other in the morning, right?”
“Yes. Senior Dunaref.”
“It’s my first time seeing a freshman come to the training room on the first day!”
‘Back in my days, we were busy playing!’ She said with a bright smile and naturally created a positive atmosphere in the blink of an eye.
“Do you want some steamed potatoes? I have sugar as well.”
‘I have it this time,’ she added with a wide smile. Even though I was a year below her and today was our first day seeing each other, she blew away the awkwardness in a single second like it was nothing.
“Thanks for the food.”
As soon as I took the steamed potato from her hands, her white fingers gently sprinkled sugar on top of the potato. White sprinkles of snow fell on top of the yellow flesh of the hot and steamy potato. A sugared potato was a delightful dish.
I was munching through it when Marie handed over a cup with water in a timely manner.
“You need water right? Slow down.”
That was when Marie spotted the elemental body and tilted her head.
Seeing an elemental body which everyone was bound to know after going through the 1st year curriculum, Marie tilted her head.
“Are you practicing with that?”
“Yes. Is there a problem?”
“N, no? It seems you are trying very hard!”
She shook her head in a fluster, seemingly worried about giving an impression that she was looking down on me.
Turning away from the entrance of my room… to be exact, after turning away from the crowd who was here to talk to Marie, I picked the spear back up when a new voice echoed from behind.
It was too dignified for it to be a student’s voice, and there was an undisguisable sign of stubbornness in his old voice.
“Huh? Instructor Haman?”
Professor Haman who had disheartened the freshmen at the entrance ceremony was glaring at me.
“Korin Lork. Freshman, aren’t you.”
“Nice to meet you, Sir Instructor.”
Old Man Haman twitched his lips after being unexpectedly called an instructor rather than a professor.
Even though the academy was divided into the sectors: Knight Department and the Magic Department, everyone teaching the students were called professors. Professor Haman was also a professor himself but he did not like that title because of how ink-stained that seemed.
“Why are you practicing with an elemental body? Korin Lork.”
“I’m practicing spearmanship. I need to hit that.”
The sunbaes behind Old Man Haman in the background bursted into sneers. They appeared to be thinking of it as the bravado of an ignorant newbie.
“Nnn… Guys, stop… It’s normal for him to not know how hard it is…”
Marie tried to stop the senior students in concern that it might hurt my feelings, but she was also under the impression that I was doing something meaningless.
“Have you learned spearmanship before? What sect are you from?”
“Just some Bagua back in my village…”
Bagua, the 8 Trigrams, was one of the combined martial arts you could learn as a 2nd year student. Truth be told, that was what I learned as the foundation and the spearmanship I actually mastered was Six Integrated Spears and the Void, but that wasn’t something I could mention in front of Old Man Haman.
I could not reveal myself yet in front of Old Man Haman and the two old-timers of the academy. They might accidentally think of me as the underling of ‘that guy’.
“Are you confident that you can pull it off?”
“Whether I’m confident or not is not of importance. I’ll have to do it.”
I came here because I needed to do it. Old Man Haman seemed satisfied by my response and grinned.
“Hahal, that’s what I like to hear. I like that attitude! I’ll give you 10 meal tickets!”
He took out a bunch of meal tickets from his coarse leather purse. It seemed… that I had left a good impression on him.
“Come look for me if you succeed! I shall give you a reward!”
Old Man Haman showed his goodwill through food. It was evident from how he liked taking his favorite students to restaurants.
Even though having a meal with a stubborn old man would normally be a toil, he was surprisingly the type of person who did not interrupt during meals.
Besides, he was a gourmet who only ate expensive food.
If I told him of my success, he would probably give me a voucher for a fabulous restaurant outside the campus. Even in the game, he used to give the voucher for a famous restaurant in Merkarva City as a reward for building rapport.
Old Man Haman left to take care of the training room while I stayed behind and stared at the elemental body. The seniors were still scoffing at me while guaranteeing that I would fail and…
“Good luck…! I hope you succeed!”
Marie, the only one who wished me good luck, went into her own room after leaving those words behind.
Elemental bodies had no eyes. Their world functioned under a different principle compared to the human world. They used mana to perceive the world unlike the five senses of a human.
This was the same even after possessing an elemental body.
An elemental body possessed by a wind elemental reacted to attacks by feeling the vibrations of the wind to discern the ripples of the air. Because of that, it was a lot more agile and sustainable than the likes of the sense of sight.
It did not fall to feints and there was no need for it to move excessively, which was why it could last longer with the same amount of stamina.
And thus, the elemental body of a wind elemental was the best practice target for knights and mages.
No matter how strong an attack was, it would be meaningless if it didn’t land on the target. Hitting the elemental body of a wind elemental which excelled in avoiding attacks was proof of the accuracy.
But that in turn meant it was extremely difficult, because one would need techniques, hard work and a capable body for accuracy.
The elemental body dodged the spear with an intimidating noise from its wings. Every time, it dodged a little bit to the side as if mocking the attacker and proved the nasty personalities of elementals.
‘I have the technique, but I don’t have the body to pull it off…”
The body was the problem. The body of Korin Lork was way too weak.
Both the Aura Rank and the Mana Rank were at the very bottom. Because of the lack of aura, I couldn’t reinforce my body, and I also couldn’t use any skills that required mana because of the lack of mana.
With my stats which were below average, I had no choice but to embed everything into each of my strikes, and every failure added more frustration and fatigue to my body and made it heavier.
“Look at him. He’s still doing it.”
“He hasn’t even scraped it yet. Can he even touch one of the wings?”
“Why is he still doing that though?”
“Probably too embarrassed to quit now.”
Ignoring the derisive remarks, I thrusted my spear but it pierced through the thin air. Facing the elemental body that didn’t even seem sincere in its escape anymore, I used the rotational power of my shoulders and my waist for an accelerated side sweep.
It sliced through the air. I averted my gaze looking for the vanished elemental body and turned back after feeling some weight on the tip of my spear.
– Tumble tumble.
The elemental body rolled down from the tip of my spear and crashed into my face.
Greater than the pain was the humiliation. It was completely looking down on me.
If I was strong enough to be at the same level as how I was in my 2nd year before the regression, I wouldn’t have been humiliated to this level.
‘I miss the times when I used to consume all sorts of stuff.’
I used to have all sorts of miraculous medicine and potions while following Park Sihu around.
My hands looked for a towel to wipe the rainfall of tears when a wet towel was placed on top of my hand.
It was Marie.
“Are you tired?”
The girl with turquoise hair said after crouching next to me as I laid down with my limbs out wide on the ground.
“Is it very hard?”
“Huu… Yes, it is.”
“It’s alright to take some rest. You’ve been working hard enough already.”
Marie floated a bitter smile while handing over a cup of water that was created through magic.
“Huu… Huu…… No.”
She appeared to be pitying me for receiving the flood of scoffs and sneers from the seniors. Marie was the only one here who wasn’t sneering at me.
“Are you heading off for your meal? I hope you enjoy your meal. I’ll leave after trying a bit more.”
“…Is it because you’re embarrassed? It’s fine. No-one’s going to say anything. You’ve been working hard. You will make it next time.”
“That’s not it.”
There was a look of increasing doubt and puzzlement on her face.
“You’re quite tired, aren’t you? It’s just not working out for you right now, junior. You’ll be able to do it next time. You can just give it another shot later.”
She wasn’t wrong.
And it was also true that I was being stubborn.
My body was heavy like it was a metal piece. My arms carrying the spear wobbled and there was blood flowing out of my ripped palms.
I thought back on what I was like 3 years ago.
3 years ago, when I first possessed this body, I would have floundered my arms around while barely chasing after the elemental body.
Compared to that, my current self was probably a lot better off because I could at least show some signs of spearmanship.
But back then, it was alright.
3 years ago, there was Park Sihu.
We had a player, and a system window. There were also potions from the crafting window as well as the skills tab.
But not anymore.
There was no Park Sihu – I killed him. Now, I had to do everything by myself. I couldn’t stop from something like this.
“It’s not late to give up after you’ve tried until the very end, right?”
There was hope. I was fairly used to it now and… there were 4 hours left until the curfew.
Analyze and attack.
Both now and before, that was the only thing I was good at.