After spending a good half an hour using 'Serenity' to recover his mana, Thomas climbed to his feet and stepped back up to the line to deal more damage to his ragged target dummy. Thomas lifted his hand and summoned his mana to convert it into the wood element. Except, this time, instead of starting from a sphere of pure mana and reshaping it after it was converted to the proper element, he shaped the mana into an arrow then converted it to wood. This allowed him to make the shape of the arrow a lot quicker and easier than reshaping a sphere of wood into an arrow shape. Once the arrow was formed he channeled mana to the rear of it to form the fletching out of leaves.
With the arrow fully formed he aimed it at the dummy and fired it. The arrow flew through the air with ease, and thanks to the fletching it was extremely accurate. The arrow struck the dummy in what was left of its chest and stuck there. A few moments later it began to fade from existence like all the previous spells before it. He smiled and flexed his hand a bit. He was starting to get the hang of casting a basic bolt spell and felt that with a little more practice he would be able to fire a bolt from most of the elements with ease.
Thomas checked his character sheet and realized he'd unlocked eight different elements. He only needed to get five of them to rank twenty-five before he could return to Hekrin. At the rate he was going it would likely take him less than a week to complete the quest. Unless there was something unexpected about magic. After examining his list of magic elements he decided to focus on the metal element for the time being. He'd honestly had to fight to not giggle out loud when he fired the finger gun earlier.
Thomas lifted his hand and formed it into a gun shape once more. He summoned his mana into the shape of a crude bullet, just a cylinder with a dome on one end. Once the mana was shaped he converted it into pure iron giving it a silver color. He started to spin the bullet in place giving the same effect the rifling in a gun would grant, flight stability. Once it was spinning he condensed mana behind the bullet, only this time using half as much mana as before. He didn't want the bullet to fly as far as it had before. The compressed mana ruptured and launched the bullet through the air.
The bullet flew true and easily pierced through the dummy and continued to fly until it hit the wall of the academy about a hundred meters away again. Thomas grimaced, clearly the bullet had a pretty good velocity to keep flying like that. Though, since there was no audible crack from the sound barrier being broken, the bullet had to be traveling slower than 343 meters a second. Thomas kept an eye out to make sure no one was in his line of fire as he lifted his hand and shaped it into a gun again. He was having fun practicing this way so why not keep doing it?
Now that he had the process for firing his little bullet spell, unoriginally and officially named 'Finger Gun' now, he just needed to practice it until he could fire it near instantly. Every spell he'd seen fired by other players in the dungeon had been nearly instantaneous. They had only needed to expend their mana while calling out the spell name and it would fire. Fulin hadn't ever mentioned needing to call out the spell name and he wondered what was up with that. It could wait until later though.
Thomas aimed his finger at the target dummy, made sure his line of fire was clear, then went through the process of creating the bullet, giving it some spin, and then firing it at the target. The whole process took him about five seconds. That sounds fast, but compared to the nearly instantaneous launch of spells by other players it still felt like far too long.
Thomas was starting to see the benefits and drawbacks to both ways of learning magic. Going to a trainer and learning a specific spell was really easy and let the individual instantly learn and cast the spell with no effort on their part. The drawback to this is that there was no real flexibility. They couldn't learn the Metal Bolt spell and modify it as he had. At least, that's what he assumed for now. He could modify or maybe even create brand new spells by learning the element. However, he also had to practice it to grow more proficient with it and couldn't instantly learn the spell and cast it.
If he had to describe it. Learning from a trainer was for casual players who just wanted to have fun and cast spells without having to think about it too much. Learning at the academy was for the more hardcore players who wanted maximum flexibility but required time and patience to learn. The next time he logged out he would have to let his friends know so they could enroll in the academies near them. It would give them an advantage in magic until others learned the secret over time.
With that decided he went back to his practice. He'd fire one shot every five minutes. After each shot, he would use his 'Serenity' to completely recover his mana so that he wouldn't get low again. It wasn't so much that he needed to rapid fire the spell but he needed perfect the process and get from beginning to end as fast as he could. Over the course of two hours, he fired the spell a total of twenty-four times and managed to bring the entire process down from taking five seconds to two seconds.
Fulin clapped his hands and called out to everyone, "Alright! Practice is over. You've got an hour break for lunch. After lunch meet up in the classroom and we'll go over any questions you all might have."
Thomas let out a deep sigh and relaxed. He felt like he had made a fair bit of progress and upon checking his character sheet he was proven right. His Metal Magic had increased to rank eight already. That wasn't too bad, but not fantastic either. It would just take more and more experience to increase it from one rank to the next. A quick bit of math let him know it would take a solid eighteen hours of repeatedly casting his finger bullet spell to get his metal magic to twenty-five.
Thomas looked over at the other students and noted that the majority of them were fatigued. The exception being Selena who seemed as composed as always. He started to wonder if anything phased that woman. He chuckled to himself and made his way over to Selena to invite her to lunch and have a conversation with her. It looked like he wasn't the only one with that idea as the blonde, Brao, made his way over to her as well.
There was a brief flash of annoyance on Selena's face when she noticed Brao was moving towards her. If Thomas hadn't been paying attention to her he'd have missed it. Selena subtly glanced around and when she noticed Thomas approaching her she smiled and met him halfway. Seeing Selena moving towards Thomas, Brao looked furious. Thomas gave a little wave to Selena, "Selena, care to join me for lunch? We didn't get to finish talking in the classroom earlier."
Selena quickly replied while nodding her head, "I would like that."
Together, to the dismay and rage of Brao, Thomas led Selena to the cafeteria. There was a rather large crowd in the cafeteria getting lunch. This was the first time Thomas had seen a large gathering of students and he was rather impressed. There was a general rumble of sound from people talking at tables or in line to get their lunch. Thomas noticed that he stuck out a bit with his clothing. Everyone else, even Selena, had robes draped over their regular clothing. Thomas was the only person wearing just a shirt and trousers.
He earned a few random looks and whispers from some of the other people in the room, but he ignored them and kept his attention on Selena as he spoke, "Looks like I should take the time to go find a robe so I don't stick out so much."
Selena laughed lightly while covering her mouth with one of her hands, "I don't think it's just that." Her eyes squinted a little as she smiled playfully, "There are already a few rumors about you floating around."
Thomas arched an eyebrow while his lips curled into a playful smirk, "Oh? What are they saying?"
Selena laughed lightly again before she started to explain, "Well, the first rumor is that you got in thanks to a recommendation from Hekrin. I had no doubt that was true."
Thomas nodded in confirmation as she continued, "The second rumor is that during your interview an image of Hekrin appeared and berated the teachers performing your interview."
Thomas nodded again and added, "I, personally, thought that was hilarious and very kind of him."
Selena giggled and continued, "The next rumor is a bit hard to believe, but after seeing what you did in practice today I'd say it's likely to be true. They say you have an affinity with all elements."
Thomas felt a little excited knowing that she had been watching him during their practice. He hadn't noticed so she must have been rather subtle about it, "Yeah, that's true. I do have an affinity with all elements."
They were close to the window serving food so they stopped talking while they collected their trays of food. They found a small unoccupied table and sat down together where Selena continued, "The next rumor is that you blew off a dukes son when he invited you to join his class."
Thomas was surprised by that becoming a rumor. Who would care about something like that at all? Thomas shrugged his shoulders and didn't deny it, though he added, "That's mostly true. Though he didn't invite me to join his class. He told me it was my honor to join his class. I can't really stand uptight pricks like that so I told him 'no thanks' and left."
Selena tilted her head to the side in a rather cute fashion as she curiously asked, "What's a prick?"
Thomas started to casually answer with, "It's a euphemism for..." He stopped when he realized he was about to say 'penis' to Selena and fumbled for a moment. He judged that she was likely a noble of some sort from his interactions with her and speaking like that was probably very improper. His cheeks even turned a little red as he realized he would have been embarrassed by saying that out loud to her. He was a damned grown man! He coughed and continued a bit sheepishly, "For... uh... male genitalia..."
Selena froze solid for a good five seconds before her ivory cheeks were colored with a tinge of red as she leaned close and whispered, "That's disgusting!"
Thomas felt his cheeks heating up even further. It had been a long time since he'd blushed, a very long time. It was kind of refreshing and frustrating at the same time. He cleared his throat and put a contrite look on his face, "Sorry about that. It's kind of a common phrase for otherworlders so it just kind of came out."
Selena squinted her eyes at him for a few moments before she relaxed and started giggling, "Still, it seemed like it might be a bit fitting."
Thomas laughed and took a bite of his food. Maybe he'd been spoiled by the good food he'd eaten so far, but the food in the school was almost tasteless in comparison, "So do they say anything else about me?"
Selena tapped her chin with a finger as she thought, then shook her head, "Nope. That's all I've heard so far."
As she ate her meal with ridiculously small bites, he couldn't help but think that pretty much everything he'd done since coming to the academy had become a rumor about him. It was rather weird. For now, he would just chalk it up to being the first otherworlder to come to the academy. He'd likely be closely observed for his entire stay.
After they both ate for a bit, Selena looked at Thomas and spoke, "I meant to ask you. When I looked over I saw you casting a weird looking spell using metal magic. You were firing tiny pieces of metal with a weird shape. What was that? I've never seen a similar spell before."
Thomas swallowed what he had in his mouth before he answered, "Oh that. I was just emulating a weapon from my world. I was just playing around and modified the metal bolt spell to fire a smaller projectile."
Selena paused for a moment before she became flustered and shouted at him, "You can't just go and modify spells on a whim! That's unbelievably dangerous! You could have blown yourself and the rest of us up! That's even worse than when you nearly burned yourself to death when you tried lightning magic the first time! Are all otherworlders so insane?!"
She was drawing a lot of attention to them. At least half of the students in the cafeteria were staring at the two of them. Selena looked around when she noticed the silence and hung her head to hide her bright red cheeks. Thomas's mind had frozen for a moment when she had first started to yell at him. They both sat in silence like statues until the room began to buzz with the noise of conversations again. Though the two of them were certain those conversations were about the two of them now.
Thomas coughed to clear his throat and spoke in a soft voice, "Sorry Selena, I didn't know that doing something like that was a bad idea. I've only been in this world a little over a month and in my world magic doesn't exist so I'm not really aware of the rules surrounding it. Today was my first time using magic and the only lessons I've had are the short speech Fulin gave us this morning."
Selena looked him over for any signs of deception and eventually nodded, "You shouldn't modify spells or try to create new magic until you know much more about the basics. Promise me you won't try anything new and weird okay?"
Thomas nodded in agreement to her request. There was no harm in doing as she asked. It was also probably a good idea to learn the rules the world had before he went about shattering them into pieces. He wouldn't want to start to practice something like darkness magic only to later find out that doing so was taboo or illegal. Becoming a pariah would be rather counterproductive.
The two finished their lunch in silence before heading towards Fulin's classroom in silence. There was still a bit of time left before the hour was up, but it would be a good idea to be early to avoid giving Fulin and excuse to kick them out. Thinking of Fulin, Thomas had forgotten to ask Selena why she was in the class of such a grump. He'd only met her in the company of grumpy men, did she have a thing for grumps?