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After the first exam results when the study group gathered the next time, everyone was surprised to find Jasmine joining in. At first, Liang was ecstatic over the fact that the study group had another 'genius' who could help the others out, however that excitement quickly dissipated when Jasmine ended up spending most of the study session observing me and how I studied.

I felt bad over the fact that I got a better score than her on one of the tests with the Authority’s help. I didn't feel bad about using the Authority to do it. It was part of my Talent, and there really wasn't any downside to me using it when it came to calculations and studying. I just felt a little bad that she got slightly obsessed with figuring out my studying method when a lot of it had to do with the Authority.

I didn't feel bad enough to do anything about it, mind you. That would involve telling her about my Talent, which I didn't feel like doing. Who knows? Maybe she'll learn something from observing me anyways.

A few days had passed since that day. The study group was supposed to meet today, too, but I had decided to skip today's session. The day I had been waiting for more than three weeks had finally come.

"Stats," I said to myself.

[Kim Hooper]

[Strength: 2.21]
[Stamina: 2.38]
[Speed: 2.56]
[Endurance: 2.18]
[Perception: 3.48]
[Magic Force: 0.67]

[Talent: The Watching Eye]

My attributes had increased a considerable amount, and according to Hope, I could handle another Talent now. I really couldn't wait much longer.

Just two days ago, we'd had our third Weapon Practice with instructor Shar, and it wasn't beautiful. By now I'm sure that she's convinced of the fact that I'm lying. Which I was. Until now, that is.

Today's lessons were finished, and because I decided to skip today's study session, I had the entire evening to create the new Talent and get accustomed to it. I was currently lying down on my bed, staring up at the ceiling.

"Hope. Are you ready to create a new Talent for me?" I asked with a broad grin.

[Yes]

"Okay. Then how does this work? Can I design the Talent myself? And what's the limit on how strong it can be?"

[The Authority of Hope will create the Talent. Elements that Kim Hooper wish to integrate into the Talent may be suggested]
[Kim Hooper's body is still vulnerable to extensive alterations and cannot survive the addition of a powerful Talent]
[The Authority of Hope will generate a Talent that will grow with Kim Hooper]

"Right... So a Talent that would make me a master archer right away isn't happening."

[Correct]

"That's fine. I wasn't expecting that to begin with. I just have two requests for this new Talent." I said and held up two fingers to the lines of text that floated in front of me. "Do you think that is too much?"

[That will depend on the nature of Kim Hooper's requests]

"First and foremost; I want it to increase my skill with the bow and make it easier for me to grow as an archer in the future. that's possible, isn't it?"

[Yes]

"Good. Then, just as a point of reference, how high would my Magic Force have to be for me to able to create arrows out of magic like Abigail does?"

[Creating a magic arrow relies significantly on the individual's magic control. The individual known as Abigail Gallegher is particularly skilled at controlling their magic]
[It is estimated that, currently, Abigail Gallegher has a Magic Force value that exceeds 6. With Abigail Gallegher's degree of control, a value of 4 is likely to be enough]

"So that basically means that I'm nowhere near being able to do it anytime soon. I feared so...But is her Magic Force seriously over 6? That's a bit crazy for someone her age, isn't it?"

[Abigail Gallagher's abnormal Magic Force is most likely caused by a Talent]

"Mm. That would explain it."

I sighed. "Anyways, since my Magic Force and magic control are lacking, this is what my second request is. I want you to incorporate a way somehow for me to make at least some use of my limited Magic Force. Do you think that is possible?"

No answer.

"Hope? What do you say? Is it possible?"

“…”

[Possibly]
[However, this is anticipated to prolong the time required for Kim Hooper to be able to manage another Talent]
[Are you sure]

"Yes. That doesn't matter. I'm sure."

[Understood. The Authority of Hope will begin the process]

Silence followed the message.

I got up from the bed and went over to the door with my bow. I could just as well use the time Hope needs to create the Talent to go to the shooting range.

 


 

I was waiting at the shooting range when Hope finally finished.

[Consolidation of additional Talent finished]

[Talent: Apollo's Blessing
Along with his twin sister Artemis, Apollo invented archery. His mastery with the weapon was rivaled only by his beloved sister, whom he would often compete with. Admired and respected by all, Apollo was a lover of the arts and a patron of many great artists. His blessing now flows through you, once again allowing the Sun god to shine his light over this world.
-Skills related to archery are slightly enhanced and are easier to practice.
-By drawing from your Magic Force, an arrow can be duplicated and controlled slightly in its flight]

I took some time to read the Talent, and when I was finished, my heart was beating with excitement. "This...This is good."

[Unexpected synergy with Talent: The Watching Eye observed]
[The creation of an additional ability is possible. Proceed?]

"W-What? Of course, do it!" I ended up yelling. I looked around embarrassingly at the other students who gave me odd stares.

[Proceeding]
[Improvement of Talent: Apollo's Blessing finished]

[Talent: Apollo's Blessing
Along with his twin sister Artemis, Apollo invented archery. His mastery with the weapon was rivaled only by his beloved sister, whom he would often compete with. Admired and respected by all, Apollo was a lover of the arts and a patron of many great artists. His blessing now flows through you, once again allowing the Sun god to shine his light over this world.
-Skills related to archery are slightly enhanced and are easier to practice.
-By drawing from your Magic Force, an arrow can be duplicated and controlled slightly in its flight
-The combination of Heimdall's unrivaled sight and Apollo's prodigious skills allows you to somewhat predict the enemy's path before they have walked it]

I lowered my voice as I talked to Hope. "What happened?"

[The new Talent had an unexpected synergy with Kim Hooper's first Talent]
[The Authority of Hope realized the synergy and created an additional ability to accommodate it]

"But, you had no idea this would happen beforehand?"

[Correct]

"Well, that new ability is amazing, so I won't complain."

If new Talents have the potential to synergize with my old Talents like this... It meant that I had to put a lot of thought into my future Talents to make proper use of this. But I could bother about all of that later on. Right now, it was time to try out this Talent.

I walked over to a target that was already set up fifty meters away and readied my bow. I took a stance and nocked an arrow. I was amazed at how fluid all of my movements felt compared to before. The Talent said that it only increased my skills slightly, but the difference was still noticeable.

I focused my gaze on the target. My perception was at the point where fifty meters felt more like ten at this point. With a loud twang, I released the arrow, and it quickly flew through the air and landed straight in the target's middle point. My mouth formed a satisfied smile.

I increased the target's distance to one hundred meters and nocked another arrow. After aiming for a second, I let go of the arrow, and almost exactly one second later, it landed just left of the middle. I still had a long way to go, but I had improved a lot.

I took out another arrow and aimed at the target again. This time, I would try duplicating the arrow. The Watching Eye's ability had been very intuitive to use, so I assumed this was too. I tried imagining the arrow between my fingers duplicating into two, and suddenly I felt something moving inside of me. It felt ticklish as something moved inside my body, from my chest area to my fingers that were currently pinching the arrow. For a second, I could see a golden light coalescing at my fingertips, before quickly disappearing into the arrow. I stared at the arrow for several seconds, but I couldn't make out anything special about it. Well, there was only one way to find out whether it worked or not.

I released the arrow and watched it fly through the air. Just as it was about to reach its apex, the arrow split into two and continued to fly towards the target. Both of the arrows hit their mark at the exact same moment. One of the arrows almost hit the middle, whilst the second arrow landed a few centimeters under the first arrow. After a few seconds passed, the second arrow dissipated into golden particles of light that floated away and disappeared.

I took out another arrow and performed the same action as before. Once again, a single arrow flew through the air and split into two before hitting the target a few centimeters away from each other — one of the arrows dissipated into thin air after a few seconds, just like the first time.

I took out another arrow. This time, I was going to try and control the arrows too.

I nocked the arrow, infused it with magic, and let it go. As the arrow flew in the air and split into two, I focused my gaze at the arrows and imagined them flying as I wanted. I could see a slight change in their trajectories. This time, one of the arrows hit the exact middle of the target, and the other arrow landed just beneath it.

With a big smile on my face, I was about to infuse another arrow with magic when suddenly, my head started feeling dizzy, and I almost lost my balance. I immediately stopped trying to infuse the arrow with magic and looked in front of me.

"Hope what was that?"

[Overexertion of one's Magic Force can lead to feelings of vertigo or worse]

"So, you're saying that I already reached my limit in my magic usage?"

[Correct]

"So I can only duplicate arrows three times at the moment... But just slightly adjusting the arrow's flight shouldn't use up as much magic, right? So if I focus on doing only that, I should be able to do it more often, correct?"

[Correct]

"Good. That means that I'll still be able to make decent use of that ability, even with my low Magic Force. But I'll have to wait for another day if I want to practice much more using that." I said to myself as I brought the target back to me and started gathering the arrows. "For now, maybe it's finally time for me to try out that training room?"

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