The second team to finish their challenge was Jean’s. They arrived at the gathering spot only a few minutes after our team. After them, it was Jasmine’s team. Then it was the team Liang was in; team Chin-Ho. Apparently, they were the other team that had to hunt the Black Gorgon Gland. Judging from their state when they arrived, they were not aware of the Black Gorgon Gland’s ‘surprise.’ Liang looked like she was ready to tear someone apart, and the rest of her team didn’t look that happy either.
After all of the teams had returned, Mr. Basara gathered the students, although team Chin-Ho had to stand further away, praised our efforts, and sent us off for the day. He also made sure that the teacher he had talked to earlier handed all of the members of team Chin-Ho a purification bath bomb, which could supposedly eliminate the smell. I wish we’d had those back in my world.
The other teams, barring team Chin-Ho, all went to celebrate their first missions by going to the restaurant or cafeteria to hang out during the evening. Jack suggested that our team should also celebrate by eating some excellent food, but both Kay and I declined. I was short on money, but I also preferred using my evenings studying or training. Sure, I had the study group with Raul, Liang, and the others, but that was still technically studying. And I never bought anything at the cafeteria where we studied. Even though I’d been at this academy for a month now, I still hadn’t tried the food at the restaurant or the cafeteria.
While most of the others from my class went to the entertainment and food district of the campus, I decided to head to the gym. I usually spent most of my at the shooting range, practicing my archery, but a couple of days a week, I’d head to the gym instead to practice some close quarters fighting and obstacle course running.
The gym was close to the shooting range, so I still walked the same path almost every night. After I had gone to my dorm and left my bow and changed into my gym clothes, I headed out for the evening. There were a lot of small parks, and small gardens spread out over the academy campus, so wherever you walked, the view was always nice. I never got tired of watching the trees and plants and the crowds of students that would walk around the campus during my evening walk to and from the training facilities. Because I lived for almost three years in a world ridden of most life, it now felt like I could never get tired of how seeing how full of life this world was. The students were always smiling, and the birds were chirping. While, at first, I did get mad at how much better this place was sometimes, I’d already gotten over those feelings. No matter what happened, this was my new home. I wouldn’t forget my old home, and I would work to avenge it, but I would also work to protect my new home. That was my current goal.
After walking for a bit, I reached the gym. The gym itself consisted of three parts. There was an outdoor gym outside the main building which was currently filled with a couple dozen or so students. Then there was the main building, which was a large four-story building filled with all sorts of gym equipment, training dummies, and sparring rooms. Connected to the main building was the obstacle course building, which was only slightly smaller than the main building. There were several different kinds of obstacle courses there — everything from forest courses, mountain courses, and more urban courses. There was even a water course.
I started out by warming up in the outdoor gym. Running a few laps around the track and doing some basic exercises. I then moved inside and started doing some light sparring with the training dummies. These dummies were fairly advanced, too, so they could even fight back to a certain degree. It wasn’t the same as fighting against a real person, but it was better than nothing. Maybe I should ask someone from my class to work as my sparring partner…
Suddenly, a loud crash could be heard from one of the sparring rooms. Whoever was in there had must be training hard, as they’d been making a lot of sound for the last twenty minutes.
The sounds of things being thrown into the walls and destroyed continued for another ten minutes before I couldn’t keep my curiosity under check any longer. I paused my training for the moment and decided to use my Watching Eye to see what kind of training that person was doing.
As the wall disappeared from my view, it revealed an unbelievable sight. The floor of the room was covered in rubble. Smashed stones the size of my torso lay strewn about everywhere and in the middle of the room stood Kay, sweat covering her body and white mist surrounding her arms. A pair of broad figures made out of stone formed at each end of the room, surrounding her. Stone golems. Several of them raised their stone arms, and the arms shot out at her at a frightening speed.
Kay didn’t hesitate for a second. The mist surrounding her arms immediately solidified and shot out like small spikes towards the chunks of rock that flew towards her. The stones shattered into pieces that flew across the room, but Kay didn’t pay it any attention. She was already moving towards the first set of golems. Barely a second passed before she was upon them. The fog gathered around her hand like a fist as she punched at the heads of two of the golems. They exploded upon impact. She quickly turned around and ran towards the next set of golems, dodging, and shattering stones as they flew at her.
As she ran, more fog emerged at her feet and crawled over the floor in the direction of the other golems. When she reached a pair of golems, it didn’t even take her a second to smash their heads into pieces. At the same time, her fog reached another pair of golems. Spikes made out of white fog erupted from the floor and pierced the torsos of both golems as if it was nothing but ordinary paper. The fog then returned to Kay and dissipated.
Only two golems were left standing. It only took Kay two more seconds to obliterate them as well. Barely ten seconds had passed, but she was already left standing alone in the room again.
I could barely comprehend what I had seen. I knew she was powerful. The way she had taken care of the Black Gorgon Gland proved that much. But this was on a whole other level. I wouldn’t be surprised if she were already on the level of some heroes, yet she was my age. I fully understood why Liang had said that even she was afraid to fight Kay now. Her strength was just unfair.
She walked back to the center of the room again. After a while, golems began to form again. I turned off my ability. Seeing that once was enough for me at the moment. I shook my head in disbelief and got back to my own training. I spent another twenty minutes trading blows with the training dummy and building up a respectable amount of sweat when I heard the sound of doors opening. I turned around and saw Kay leaving the sparring room. She didn’t notice me.
“Hey. Looks like you worked hard.” I announced.
She turned around and looked at me. Of course, she wasn’t startled. She was as impassive as always. “Yes,” Was all she said.
I smiled wryly. “I could hear it all the way out here. What did you do in there; construct a house?”
She shook her head. “No. I was sparring with Stone Golems.”
Her answer threw me off a little, but I chuckled at how it was like her to answer like that. “Yeah, I guessed as much. I was actually joking about the house.”
She nodded her head. “Yes, I know. I’m not stupid.” She then tilted her head and looked at me and the training dummy that I had been fighting. “Why are you using that?”
I gave her a confused look. “Because I want to train…?”
“Then why aren’t you using the sparring rooms? You can train much more effectively by using them than by using that thing.”
I raised my eyebrows at her. “Did you forget who I am? Just one attack from one of those golems, and my spine would break in two.”
“There are less dangerous opponents.”
“Mm, that is true. I might even last up to three blows from a lesser elemental.” My voice was filled with sarcasm, and I shook my head. “I can’t handle anything in there at the moment. Remember, I’m the weakest in our class.”
She looked reflective. “Maybe that’s true. I might have overestimated you, then. I know you’re weak, but I thought you were hiding part of your strength, considering how experienced you were with hunting monsters.”
“First of all, that was a Black Gorgon Gland. The lowest of bottom-ranked monsters. Even a child could kill it if they’re lucky. Secondly, I used guns to fight monsters. I avoided getting close to them as much as possible.”
“When did you have to fight monsters with guns?”
I shrugged my shoulders. “I don’t know. When did you eat monster meat?”
She became quiet. “…I used to travel a lot.”
“I might not be the best person to say this, but I don’t think that’s normal even if you travel a lot.”
She tilted her head. “Didn’t you also eat monster meat?”
I shook my head fervently. “Nope. Never happened. If that were true, then people would call me some kind of weirdo.”
“Liang often calls you weird.”
“…I don’t want to hear that from you.”
Kay didn’t say anything for a while. She looked at the training dummy again and looked thoughtful. “If you have no one to spar with except that dummy, then would you like to spar with me?” She suddenly asked.
My eyes opened wide with surprise. “Wait. What? Why?”
“To train.” She deadpanned.
I rubbed my temples. “No, I meant, why do you want to spar with me? You’re way stronger than I am. Do you hate me or something?”
“I don’t dislike you, and I can hold back my strength. In a way, sparring with you would let me train my control even better.” She looked at me with an almost confused expression. “Shouldn’t you be happy to spar with me? It should be a great chance for you to learn.”
“Are you sure your goal isn’t just to find an excuse to beat me to a pulp?”
“Why would I need an excuse for that?”
“…If I didn’t know better, I would have thought that was a threat. Take my advice; try not to talk to other people like that unless you actually plan on beating them up.”
She nodded her head. “Mm, it’s okay. I don’t talk to other people except you and Liang.”
“…I’m split between feeling honored and feeling pity." I sighed heavily. "Okay, fine. Let's spar. But don't tell Liang about it."
“Because she’ll also want to fight me then, and unlike you, I don’t trust her to be able to hold back.”
“Mm. it would be a shame if our team lost a member.”
“Gee, thanks,” I said and followed her over to another sparring room.