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I was nervous as I walked with Raul towards the shooting range. We'd finished the day's classes and eaten dinner, and it was now time for another session of Weapon Practice with Tanju Shar ‘The Great.’ She'd been patient with me for the first two sessions, but during the third session, most of that patience had worn off. However, this time, I felt sure that I could finally show her some results. Then, hopefully, she'll accept me as one of her students for real.

But what if, even with the help of my new Talent, I still wasn't good enough? Whilst the addition of Apollo's Blessing did certainly boost my skills a substantial bit; it was still mainly a Talent that had to grow more before it could shine. If she decides that I'm not good enough right now, then I risk losing access to a valuable teacher.

"What are you looking so glum for? It's not like you to be so down." Raul smirked as he walked beside me. "You afraid that instructor Shar will kick you out or something?"

"...Kind of, yeah."

His expression turned more serious at my answer, and he stroked his chin. "Well, she did seem annoyed last time. And I don't want to sound rude, but you haven't really improved much during these last weeks... You didn't lie about having a specialized Talent, did you?"

I let out an annoyed breath. "First off, I've improved by leaps and bounds, thank you very much. It's just that you guys have a skewed sense of reality." I said as I jabbed my finger in his direction. "I'm already way past Olympic level for god's sake..." I added in a low voice.

He laughed at that and patted me on the back. "In what world are your skills Olympic level?"

"In a normal world..." I mumbled.

"Anyways." I help up two fingers in front of his face. "Secondly, I wasn't lying. It's just a Talent that requires a bit of time. But I had a major breakthrough yesterday, so now, even you will have to recognize my skills. Or at the very least, you'll have to recognize my talent."

Raul stared at me, dumbfoundedly. "...I can't tell if you were trying to pull a pun or if you were serious with that last sentence. I'm hoping you were serious because you are not suitable for puns."

"...Screw you. I can make puns if I want. It was a good pun." I quickened my pace and walked ahead of him.

Raul chuckled and shook his head. "It really wasn't..." He muttered and increased the length of his steps, easily catching up to me. Tall bastard...

Just to be safe, maybe I’d avoid puns in the future...

 


 

Instructor Shar had arrived early today and was already instructing Abigail when we arrived at the shooting range. The instructor was standing with her arms crossed and a stern look on her face as she observed Abigail take up a stance and form a bright pink arrow out of magic. With her bright blue eyes, it looked like the instructor see the very essence of the world.

"It's still unstable. You're letting too much of your magic force to go waste. It'd be a miracle if that could even heal a paper cut." She declared in a steely voice. "You're not ready for it yet. Go back to your old arrows until your control grows better."

Abigail flinched at the older woman's words, but quietly inclined her head and dispersed the arrow that she had created.

Instructor Shar then turned towards me, Raul, and the other two students that had arrived at about the same time as us. Her gaze lingered at me for a second before she pointed towards the targets. "One target each. One hundred meters. Start shooting."

We followed her command without hesitation and immediately started practicing. I started shooting arrow after arrow in quick succession. With every arrow that I fired, I tried altering its trajectory at the latest possible moment to get a feeling for my new ability and to save as much of my magic force as possible. After a couple minutes, the middle of my target was littered with a dozen arrows, most of which were only a few millimeters from each other. I nodded my head with satisfaction. If I focused only on controlling the arrow at the last possible and not on duplicating it, I could make use of my magic for far longer. And it increased my accuracy by a decent amount.

"Your stance has improved."

I jumped in surprise as instructor Shar suddenly spoke next to me. I had no idea she had been watching me just now.

"How did you do it?" She asked.

I looked at her confusedly. "...Do what?"

"Comparing your stance today to a few days ago would be like comparing night and day. Improving by that much that fast is unreasonable. But I can tell that you weren't faking it before, so... How did you do it?" She kept looking at me, coldly. However, for just a millisecond, I felt like a saw a tinge of interest show itself in her eyes.

I shrugged my shoulders embarrassingly. "My Talent was a bit troublesome to get a handle on. But yesterday, I had a breakthrough, and ever since then, things have just felt more natural."

She stared at my face for several seconds and then focused on the target. "Shoot." She ordered.

I did as she said and fired another arrow at the target. It flew in a modest arc and landed right between two other arrows close to the middle of the target.

"Again." She said with a frown. "This time, hit exactly in the middle." She commanded.

I looked at her in confusion. Then I realized what she was trying to say. I smiled inwardly. I guess nothing escapes her sight.

I nocked another arrow and released it at full speed. Just like the previous arrow, it flew in a low arc towards the target. However, this time, just as the arrow was closing in on the target, I drew power from my magic force and manipulated the arrow's flight so that it hit squarely in the middle of the target.

Instructor Shar nodded approvingly at my result. "You have awakened an interesting Talent."

"Thank you, instructor."

She turned to me again. "Is there more to it?"

"..."

I hesitated to answer.

She frowned at my indecision. "If I am to teach you, I must know what you are capable of."

I thought about her statement. She was right. There wasn't much point in hiding this Talent's abilities from her right now. I nodded my head slowly at her. "There is more."

"Show me."

I grabbed another arrow from my quiver and nocked it. I felt the magic flow from my chest through my arm and into my fingertips as I thought about duplicating the arrow. The same golden light from yesterday coalesced at my fingertips and traveled into the arrow.

From the corner of my eye, I could see instructor Shar stare at the arrow intensely. The tips of my mouth formed into a small smile as I released the arrow. It flew through the air, splitting into two as it reached its apex. I used even more of my magic force to control the two arrow's flight so that they hit the target only a few millimeters away from each other.

Feeling satisfied with my display, I turned to look at instructor Shar.

"You didn’t do that." However, what she said left me stupefied.

"Huh?"

She looked at the second arrow as it dissipated into golden particles that disappeared into the air, then she turned to me with a severe expression. "I can tell that your magic force is extremely low. It's unthinkable that your magic control would be in a much better state. Despite that, I saw magic that was being imbued and enchanted into that arrow, which was on a whole other level from anything an inexperienced youth like you could perform. You couldn't have done that."

I was astonished at her accurate assessment of the situation. With just a look, she could discern all of that. Those eyes really could see more than natural.

"I-I guess you're right. I didn't do that entirely by myself. My Talent did it for me. I just have to think about imbuing my arrow with magic, and it happens."

Instructor Shar looked genuinely surprised at what I had said. I had almost thought that she couldn't be surprised, but I was proven wrong. But her surprised look was quickly replaced by a serious one again. "Don't tell anyone else about your Talent unless absolutely necessary." She said in a serious voice.

"Why not?" I asked her.

"Never in my life have I come across a Talent like yours, that allows a beginner like you to easily perform a feat that requires decades of experience to learn. Nothing good will come out of that information coming out."

"…I see. I had no idea it was something that incredible. But I understand. I won't tell people about it."

She nodded her head at me. "Good. Then I will teach you."

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