At the practice ground, Fulin turned to the six students and started to speak, "The first spell you will practice is the Water Spray spell. To cast this spell you need to form your mana into a long thin shape and picture it becoming tight at one end while the mana flows towards it. Think of it like trying to pass the water element through the eye of a needle. Do it properly and you should produce a thin but powerful stream of water that can pierce and cut through things."
Thomas had better ideas than the eye of a needle, but that should work for the others. Fulin lifted his hand and gathered mana into it. Once he converted it into the water element a stream of water no wider than a millimeter shot forward. The pressure of the stream was so high that it easily reached the target dummy ten meters away. With a simple wave of his hand, Fulin easily severed the target dummy in half at chest height. After ending his spell Fulin looked at his students, "Like so."
Everyone nodded and moved over to their own target dummies. Thomas stepped up to his and thought for a moment. He decided to go with the shape of a water cutter nozzle he'd seen a few times in videos for his version of the spell. With high water pressure and an abrasive, such as sand, water cutters in the real world could easily slice through steel so it seemed appropriate to base the spell off of that. Thomas took himself through the steps of summoning his mana, shaping it, converting it and then added pressure. From his hand, a long thin stream of water launched out and pierced through the target dummy.
Thomas let the stream of water fire for about a second before he cut it off. The damage to the dummy wasn't visible from where he was standing, but if someone were to go up to the dummy they would see a small hole piercing through its chest. Thomas thought about it a bit and pointed his finger at the dummy this time. He intended to aim with the tip of his finger so he could exercise precise control over the spell. He cast the water spray spell again, though this time he moved the tip of his finger just a bit. The water followed the movement of his finger and easily sliced the dummy in half, much like Fulin had previously.
Thomas observed the damage done to the target dummy and couldn't help wondering just how damaging the spell would be when used against a monster. He spent the next half an hour practicing the spell on the dummy, though he didn't slice it anymore and simply pierced small holes through it. After he'd gotten a good feel for the spell, Fulin called out, "Alright. We'll begin practicing the water bomb now."
Everyone stopped what they were doing and focused their attention on Fulin for the promised demonstration. Once he was sure he had everyone's attention, Fulin raised his hand with his palm facing up and summoned a sphere of water no bigger than a baseball, "Now as I said before, once you summon this water sphere you need to compress pure mana into its center. Once you have you launch it like any other normal bolt spell. The trick is getting your timing right. Once the bomb is near your target you need to immediately convert all the pure mana into the water element."
He turned to look at his sliced in half target dummy and fired the water bomb at it. The bomb flew through the air and just before it struck the dummy it suddenly burst with a shocking amount of force. There was a deep thump and a wave of air pressure blew past everyone. Unlike a chemical explosion, the water bomb had exploded due to pressure making it quieter but the pressure wave was extraordinary. Thomas felt the pressure as it hit his chest like a powerful bass line from large speakers.
When the cloud of water vapor and dust dispersed, the target dummy was nothing but ragged pieces scattered about. It had been completely destroyed by the water bomb. Fulin turned to the students and had a serious look on his face, "You must be extremely careful when practicing this spell. If you make a mistake you could not only hurt yourself but those near you." His eyes focused on Thomas, "That goes double for you."
Thomas grumbled under his breath. He hadn't done anything yet today to get yelled at! Make a disturbance in class two days in a row and suddenly you're a troublemaker. Some of the other students chuckled and gave Thomas somewhat sympathetic looks. The exceptions were Selena who just laughed at his expense and Brao who gave him a smug look. Fulin looked over the class again and continued, "Spread out a little more than before and make sure to be careful. The last thing I need is the dean yelling at me because one of you blew yourselves up."
Everyone nodded and went back to the firing line of the practice field. Though this time they put nearly double the distance between themselves as before. Thomas looked at the new dummy he was standing in front of since he'd moved further down the line to be further away from the other students. He had a feeling they all expected him to be the one to nearly blow himself up with this spell since everyone gave him a nice wide berth.
He hefted his hand and went through the standard steps to summon the water sphere. Once it was summoned he focused inside of it and created another small sphere of pure mana and compressed it a fair amount, though he felt he could compress more into it. He didn't want to overdo it and get himself into more trouble for causing an explosion much bigger than would be safe. With that done he aimed the water bomb at the target dummy and fired it off. As the bomb flew he could feel the connection to the pure mana stretching longer and thinner until it became just a thread connecting him to the bomb.
Fulin had been right, judging the distance between the bomb and the target was rather difficult. When he judged the bomb to be close enough, Thomas converted the mana remaining inside of the bomb into the water element. The moment the mana was converted to the water element he felt his control over it slip away, he could only maintain control of the pure mana. Before all of the pure mana could be converted into water the water bomb exploded. The blast wasn't even a quarter as powerful as the one Fulin had fired off, but it was still rather strong. The water bomb burst in an explosion of water and force that sent out a rather weak blast wave.
When the water vapor and dust cleared, Thomas was disappointed to find that he had detonated the bomb too soon. The dummy had taken minor damage, but that was all. He examined the results and found he'd detonated the bomb about two meters too early. He also believed he hadn't converted his pure mana into the water element fast enough, which reduced the force of the explosion. He would need to convert the compressed pure mana into water faster to build more pressure and cause a larger and more powerful explosion.
Thomas took a breath and rolled his shoulders before he created another water bomb. He fired the bomb at the dummy again, though this time he waited a little bit longer to let the bomb travel farther before he converted his pure mana into water. This time he managed to convert almost half of the mana before the bomb burst. Another blast wave passed through his body and when the water and dust cleared he sighed. The bomb had blown up behind the target this time, missing by about a meter this time. It had still dealt some damage to the dummy and made it tilt towards him but it hadn't been blown to pieces.
Thomas turned to look at the other students and see how their practice was going, only to see all of them watching him cautiously. None of them had started to practice yet, they'd all been watching him just in case he blew himself up. Thomas frown and shouted, "Oh come on! I'm not that dangerous!"
Selena let out a pleasant laugh and then pretended like she hadn't been cautiously watching Thomas while she started to cast her own water bomb spell. The rest of the class looked a little embarrassed before following Selena's example and practicing for themselves. Before long there were multiple blast waves passing through everyone's bodies as water bombs detonated constantly.
Thomas watched them for a moment and noticed that no one else was having much more luck with their accuracy than he had been. Since he couldn't glean any hints from any of them, he turned back to his target and fired another water bomb at it. It took him another half an hour and another seven water bombs before he honed his accuracy enough to actually detonate the bomb right in front of the chest of the target dummy. He'd even managed to convert just over seventy-five percent of his pure mana inside of the water bomb for the detonation which resulted in the target dummy being decimated.
For the next two hours, Thomas rotated between a water spray spell, water bomb spell, and 'Serenity' to recover his mana until Fulin called a break for lunch. After Fulin called for the lunch break, Selena quickly made her way over to Thomas and gave him a smile. Thomas smiled back at her, "Shall we?"
Selena held up a hand in a stopping motion for a second, "Wait, I promised to have lunch with Essa as well today."
Just as she finished speaking Essa came over to join them and gave Selena a warm smile. Apparently, the two of them had become friends at some point. Or maybe they knew each other before? If they did why would Selena use him for a shield again Brao then? Maybe using a guy to keep another guy away? Thomas stopped thinking about it, it didn't matter and it gave him the chance to get to know another one of his classmates. He gave Essa a warm smile as he held out his hand to shake, "I know we've been in class together for a few days now but I never properly introduced myself. I'm Thomas and it's nice to meet you Essa."
Essa placed her much smaller hand in his and he gave it a polite shake, which seemed to confuse her for a moment. She didn't let it bother her though and just gave him a smile as she said, "Nice to meet you officially Thomas, I'm Essa."
After the quick handshake, Thomas released Essa's hand and the three of them made their way to the cafeteria while chatting. They talked mostly about their lessons and the things they'd learned during them, even sharing insights about how the spells worked and ways to make them a little better without stepping into the area of spell modification. It came up that Essa hadn't managed to detonate a water bomb directly on the target dummy so Thomas told her that he'd started using the feeling of the mana trailing from this hand to the bomb to judge distance. Essa thought that was pretty clever and decided to try that when they got back to practice.
Essa was a somewhat talkative young woman and Thomas found the mix of her shoulder length dark hair and green eyes to be rather interesting. Though she didn't even compare to Selena in looks, she was still an attractive young woman. Like all women seemed to be within AoG. As they were eating the subject of their hometowns came up and Essa started talking happily, "I was born and raised in Oyanes, a prosperous little city near the western border with the country of Stams. There's no dungeon there, but we have a lot of trade and caravans that come through from Stams. I earned most of my experience fighting animals and monsters while guarding caravans between the two countries. On my last escort mission, I saved the life of a minor noble so when he asked me what I wanted for a reward, I told him I wanted to learn magic. He gave me the entrance fee and my recommendation letter to attend the academy for a semester."
Essa beamed a bright smile as she recalled her little story. Then she looked at Thomas and said a little teasingly, "I was in the auditorium when you went on stage and caused such a spectacle." She giggled at his expense.
Thomas laughed along with her giggle, "It was really quite a good show eh?"
Essa nodded enthusiastically while Selena laughed lightly and said, "I really wish I had been there to see it. I guess I'll just have to be content with Essa telling me all about it every time I ask."
Thomas wasn't really sure why, but for some reason, he felt that was rather embarrassing to hear. They continued to chat until lunch was done. After they finished eating the three of them made their way back to the classroom to go through the second half of today's lesson, which was likely to be more of the same.