Over the next few hours of practice, Thomas would blast out swaths of flames towards is target dummy. It didn't take very long for him to reduce the dummy to nothing but ashes. It didn't really matter though since the training grounds was just a dirt field. There was nothing nearby he could set on fire and cause damage to the surroundings with. He rotated between unleashing bursts of flames and sitting down to recover his mana with 'Serenity' as he slowly built up his experience with the spell.
By the time Fulin called for their lunch break, he was feeling rather mentally exhausted while his body still brimmed with energy thanks to 'Serenity'. He'd found that using fire magic was easier and harder than the other elements. It was easier because all he had to do was push his mana through the flames he summoned in whatever shape he desired but it was harder because he lost a lot more mana due to his inefficiency. He was still easily losing between sixty to seventy percent of his mana before it came into contact with the flames. He was beginning to think he would need to seriously grind up his mana control to get that amount down.
Today he left the practice field with Selena, Essa, and Fuller to make their way to the cafeteria. It turned out that Essa and Fuller had become friends so she'd invited him to join the growing group for lunch. Fuller was a decent down to earth guy that Thomas felt he could become friends with rather easily. Which made the revelation that Fuller was actually the son of a minor noble rather surprising to him. Thomas couldn't help but ask as they ate, "Fuller, you're really the son of a noble?"
Fuller nodded and smiled, "Yeah. My dad is in charge of a small section of the kingdom that's mostly woods. My father is just a small Baron, but he takes his job seriously and does his best to protect the people he rules over."
Thomas swallowed some food before asking, "So he's a good man that protects his people?"
Fuller nodded and smiled with a bit of pride in his father, "That's right. It's the job of a noble to protect the people he's ruling over. Whenever monsters appear in the area he's one of the first people to don his armor and grab his sword to go out and fight them. His people love him dearly and I hope someday to be half the man he is."
Thomas looked contemplative for a moment. He knew he was heavily biased against nobles due to his past experiences with them. Granted, those experiences had nothing to do with the nobles in AoG, but his first interaction with a noble in the game had just reinforced his bias against them. Not to mention his interaction with Brao, the son of a noble. Thomas looked at Fuller as he asked, "Is your father a good example of how nobles in Reykhoten behave?"
Fuller smiled broadly and nodded his head, "My father is a great man and tries his best to emulate how the higher ranking nobles above him behave." Fuller looked into Thomas's eyes and smiled warmly, "I suppose that as someone from another world you don't really know how our nobility works do you?" Seeing Thomas shake his head Fuller nodded and continued, "In this country, it is the job of the nobility to protect the citizens. Nobles are given the right to rule their lands and in exchange, they hire commoners to be their soldiers. The soldiers are trained and provided with everything they need to live including weapons and armor. When there is an emergency, such as a monster invasion, the noble in charge is always the first to charge into the fray and fight with their lives on the line. It is the duty of a noble to use their power to protect their people. In our world, only the strong become nobles because only the strong can protect the weak."
Fuller sighed and relaxed as he spoke, "Not everyone wants to go out and risk their lives fighting monsters and risking death to gain experience and become stronger. Many citizens just go over the threshold into superhuman without trying to go further. Instead, they focus on things like farming, weaving, tailoring and so on to provide normal goods that people need to live. Honestly, that's for the best. After all, if everyone was a super powerful warrior fighting the monsters then who would farm the food we need to eat or make the clothing we need to wear?"
Fuller smiled and look closely at Thomas, "So, with that in mind, the kingdom decided that the nobles would be made of the strongest citizens and protect the people who just want to live normal and peaceful lives. Unlike other kingdoms in the world, Reykhoten's nobility isn't inherited, it's earned. Nobles, like my father, have earned their marks of nobility. Though, often it seems like it is hereditary as nobles will train their children and teach them so that they can become strong enough to protect the citizens. This makes it seem like a somewhat hereditary system. However, cases of it being passed down from parent to child are still judged by the power of the child to protect their citizens. If the nobles child is useless they will not inherit their parents' mark of nobility and instead someone more fitting will be selected."
Thomas listened with rapt attention and when Fuller finished speaking he asked, "So here in Reykhoten the strong protect and rule over the weak?"
Selena chimed in at the point to let Fuller stop talking so he could focus a bit more on eating, "It is the duty of all nobles to fight, and maybe even die, for their citizens. The nobles are not noble by blood but noble by deed. Many nobles die on the front lines fighting to protect their people and are forever honored for their noble sacrifices. Many nobles raise their children with these ideals in mind." She smiled sweetly and looked at Fuller before turning her attention back to Thomas, "Nobles like Fuller's father do everything in their power to raise strong sons and daughters to protect the lands after their time has passed. Sometime in the future when Fuller's father retires, or gods forbid dies, a new noble will be selected for their lands. If Fuller is strong enough he will be one of the candidates selected to take over his father's role. If such a thing were to happen before Fuller was prepared or strong enough then someone else will become the new Baron."
Selena gave Thomas a playful smile as she said, "Even you could potentially become the new Baron to replace Fuller's father if you were strong enough and desired to do so."
Thomas shuddered at that though and waved his hand dismissively, "I'd pass. I've no interest in becoming a noble. I only want to do my own thing and maintain my freedom." He smiled warmly before he continued, "I would much rather spend my time in a workshop making interesting or powerful items for people like Fuller to take out into the wilds and use to slaughter monsters." He looked at Selena and Fuller as he smiled, "I know what I want to do with my life and it's make things, not rule over people."
Selena and Fuller both smiled and Selena nodded in approval as she spoke, "It's always good to know what you want to do with your life." She looked slightly melancholic before she continued, "Not all of us have a choice in the matter though."
Thomas looked inquisitively at Selena, but she just waved his unasked question away. The group of four continued to chat as they ate. Once lunch was finished they all made their way back to the classroom together. Four of the six students had become something akin to friends leaving only Treena and Brao out of their lunch together at this point. When the four arrived at the classroom together they met the other two. Instead of heading into the back of the classroom as he had in the past, Thomas chose to sit near Fuller and continue to chat with him until Fulin came into the classroom.
Fulin stepped into the classroom and made note of the changes in the seating positions for the students. Only Treena and Brao continued to sit alone while Selena and Essa, as well as Thomas and Fuller, sat together as pairs. Fulin looked over his students before he asked, "Anyone have any questions?"
Thomas was the first to speak up, "I had one. I've noticed that I lose a lot of excess mana whenever I cast spells. It's especially noticeable with the use of fire magic. Is there anything I can do to lower how much mana it takes me to cast a spell?"
Fulin nodded and asked, "Do you have the Mana Control ability?"
"I do, it's currently rank twenty-four."
Fulin nodded again and answered, "Your Mana Control is simply too low in rank." He looked at Fuller and asked, "Fuller, What's your mana control at?"
Fuller smiled and answered, "It's currently rank 139."
Thomas's eyes bulged at the large number Fuller had spouted out. Fullers Mana Control was more than five times his own! Fulin looked at Thomas, "Most students who come to the academy have spent a long time practicing their mana control beforehand. Usually over the course of years as they raise their Magic attribute by gaining experience. Considering you've only been in this world for a little over a month, your progress in Mana Control is actually pretty commendable. However, you will need to get its rank much higher before it will have a really good effect on your ability to cast spells."
Thomas sighed and nodded his head before asking, "Is there a good way to train it?"
Fulin answered with, "The best way is to practice controlling your mana either by just forming your pure mana into different shapes or by casting spells with it. There's not really any special ways to train it."
"Thanks, that's all I wanted to ask."
Fulin looked over the class and seeing that no one else had any questions he clapped his hands together, "Alright. Same as yesterday. Head out to the practice field and work on your fire magic. Tomorrow we will move onto the last for the four primary elements, Wind. After that, we will take a one week break from lessons. During that week I want you all to train in the four elements and get all four of them up to rank twenty-five before we start classes back up. During the week-long break, I suggest you all head into the dungeon and get yourselves some experience to increase your attributes. It will also give you more experience to increase the ranks of your magic if you use it to defeat monsters."
Everyone nodded after Fulin explained what they would be doing. Thomas was particularly excited by the prospect of getting out into the dungeon and getting himself some experience. He was behind everyone else in the class when it came to his Magic attribute and he wanted to close the gap at least a little bit and get his Magic to at least the minimum entry requirement of seventy-five for the academy. He wouldn't complain if he managed to increase it more though!
The class filed out of the classroom and made their way back to the practice field. Thomas was rather surprised to see that the field had been restored to pristine condition and that there was a whole new set of target dummies for him and the other students to torch. He made his way over to a dummy and got ready to begin his practice. He did the same thing he'd done earlier in the day and rotated between Firebolt, Flamethrower and 'Serenity' for the next hour. After each set, he would look over to see if Fulin was still watching the class. After an hour and a half Fulin left the class to their own devices.
Thomas stopped casting his spells and checked his character sheet to check his progress. Unfortunately, because of how mana intensive fire magic was, he hadn't managed to get it up very many ranks at all today. It didn't help that he was stopping his practice a few hours earlier than normal so he could head into the city to do some shopping. He used 'Serenity' for a bit to recover his body to peak condition before he left the practice field. He was the first student to duck out today, but he had a good reason. He needed supplies to make a formation plate!
Thomas checked inside his storage ring and hoped that the seven hundred gold he had on him would be enough for what he needed to get. He'd brought the book with him since it listed all of the materials he would need to create the formation plate. The only thing it didn't list was what the plate was made from or the tool needed to engrave on it. Thomas was just going to purchase an iron plate, a small hammer, and a chisel. That should be enough for him to carve the formation into the plate. The rest of the materials were alchemical ingredients needed to treat the plate along with mana crystals. Thomas looked at the pile of over 130 mana crystals inside of his ring and figured that was far more than enough for his work.
He made his way out of the academy gates and stepped back into the city. He stretched and sighed happily. He should do some extra shopping while he was out and about while he was at it. He could use more clothing and a wash basin. Grinning as he formed a shopping list in his mind, he made his way into the buzzing flow of pedestrian traffic and started to look for shops that would have what he wanted.