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A couple of weeks had passed since I first sparred with Kay, and after that, she had actually proposed that we keep sparring every other day. I was hesitant to accept at first, fearing that the sparring sessions would be more like interrogation sessions instead. I still didn't know what tipped her off about my Talent. I'd checked, my eyes didn't glow when I used the Watching Eye.

But I’d learned a lot during that first pass, so I decided to accept her offer. Thankfully, she kept her word and didn’t try to pry much more into my Talents or past. Thanks to her, I felt like I improved quite a bit. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t get my ass kicked by Alima during sparring lessons anymore. Now I’m even winning against her sometimes.

Of course, my training with Kay isn’t the only reason for that. The growth of my attributes also did their fair share.

[Kim Hooper]

[Strength: 2.51]
[Stamina: 2.74]
[Speed: 3.03]
[Endurance: 2.45]
[Perception: 4.21]
[Magic Force: 0.93]

[Talent: The Watching Eye]
[Talent: Apollo’s Blessing]

I’m pretty sure that my speed has already surpassed Alima’s, and the other attributes were well on their way. For reference, I would guess that the upper limit that an ordinary human is capable of achieving is somewhere between 2.5 and 2.8 on most attributes. I’d reached the point now where not even Usain bolt had a chance of outrunning me. Although most of the other students in my class still could… But I was closing in on them.

Because my strength had increased a lot, I also had to switch out my bow to one with a higher draw weight. I went from one with twenty-kilogram draw weight to one with almost forty. Mr. Basara wasn’t too happy about the paperwork involved, but the difference was humongous. It made shooting at longer ranges that much easier, and I could shoot arrows with much power in general. Paired with my increased speed, I’d easily beaten my old record in the training room with the default settings. Before, it was 17.74 seconds. Now, I could do it in 12.41 seconds.

The fact that I had gotten a lot more accustomed to using Apollo’s Blessing to predict the target’s path and The Watching Eye to know when they were about to leave cover also had a lot to do with my lowered time.

Of course, I’d also just gotten a lot better as an archer in general. Under instructor Shar’s guidance, my learning speed was nothing to scoff at. While I wasn’t at Abigail’s or Raul’s level yet, I had already passed the other two students. Although, of course, I couldn’t infuse my arrows with magic or anything like that yet. According to Hope, I wouldn’t even be able to start practicing my magic control until my magic force reached somewhere around 2, which was a real shame.

We’d had two more Group Subjugation Engagement classes since the first one, too, so I’d been able to show off my increased archer skills there. Also, because we were still only fighting bottom-ranked monsters, my previous experience helped out sometimes too. Altogether, team Gallagher had managed to get first place twice and third place once. Jean’s and Jasmine’s teams were also pretty skilled, so we couldn’t always beat them.

Currently, I was sitting in the cafeteria with the rest of the study group. We’d had another test a few days back. The results were about the same as last time, except that I managed to pass Abigail by and get second place in Group Subjugation Design too. I’d been energized by Jasmine’s fervor after the last test and studied extra hard. This meant that me and Jasmine were sharing the first and second places for all three theoretical subjects. It goes without mention that she was very motivated to score higher than me on Metaphysical Formation Analysis next time. Because of this, Jasmine was currently sitting next to me with a very focused look on her face as she was looking down at her textbook. Now and then, she would look at my notes or ask me a question too. She didn’t actively add much to the study group, but she’d answer any questions you had as long as you didn’t ask too many, so we didn’t mind having her there.

Also, you had the fact that she was a real-life princess. When Liang had called her a princess earlier, I had just assumed that she meant that Jasmine was the sheltered daughter of some wealthy family. It was a bit embarrassing to admit that it had actually taken me a while to realize that Liang meant it literally.

Jasmine Silvia Sibylla was her full name, and she was the granddaughter of the current Swedish king. If that wasn’t cool, I don’t know what is.

“Hey Kay, wake up.” Liang nudged Kay’s shoulder.

Kay looked up with a lifeless face. “I am awake.”

“Then keep studying! Didn’t you just barely pass this last test?”

Kay gave Liang a long stare. “…You failed, though.”

“I know!” Liang exclaimed. “That’s why I’m studying. And if I’m studying, then you have to study too!” She grabbed Kay’s notebooks and pushed them onto her.

Kay grumbled and opened up the notebooks, before promptly laying her head down onto them instead.

“Tsk.” Liang clicked her tongue at Kay’s actions. Then she looked as if she remembered something and turned towards Jean, who was currently chatting with Abigail.

“Oh, right. Jean, Monique is on your team, isn’t she?”

Jean paused his conversation with Abigail and turned towards Liang.

“Yeah, that’s right.”

“Then, do you know if she knows Mr. Crawford?”

Jean raised his eyebrows. “Who’s Mr. Crawford?” He asked.

“Isn’t that Class 3’s homeroom teacher?” Abigail cut in.

Liang nodded her head. “Yes.”

Jean shook his head. “Then, I don’t know. She hasn’t mentioned it to me, at least.” He looked at Alima. “Do you know anything, Alima?”

Alima looked down timidly. “N-No. But I don’t know her that well…”

“Ah, okay. Well, it’s fine.” Liang said.

“Why do you ask?” Jean asked.

“I saw her talking to him in one of the classrooms yesterday. I was just a bit curious why.”

Jean shrugged his shoulders. “She could just have asked him about help with some questions.”

“But then she could just have talked to Mr. Basara.” A mischievous grin formed on Liang’s face. “Or maybe she has another, more intimate reason to talk to Mr. Crawford?”

Jean furrowed his brows. “Don’t go starting weird rumors. You know how Mr. Basara is. He doesn’t like doing any extra work, so for her to ask another teacher isn’t weird.”

Liang sighed. “Ugh. I guess you’re right.”

“Perhaps you should focus more on studying about the intrinsic causes of a dungeon’s rupturing than prying into another student’s personal business,” Jasmine said as she briefly looked up from her textbooks. “Then you’ll have a higher chance of passing the next text.”

Liang’s face stiffened, and it looked like she was about to retort, but she held her tongue. She probably realized that Jasmine had a point. Instead, Liang went back to prodding Kay.

“Get your head back up. We’re studying!” She announced and looked down at her textbook. She immediately turned her head back up and looked at me. “Ehm, Kim. How do you solve this question?”

As I got up from my seat and went over to Liang to help her out, Jean spoke.

“By the way, what do you guys think the survival challenge next week will be about?”

“It’s just two days in the forest, right?.” Raul asked.

Mr. Basara had told us about this earlier in the week. It was time to start getting into the practical parts of our Survival Class, and this survival challenge would be our first test. He hadn’t said exactly what we would do, though.

“Yes, but Mr. Basara said that we'd be evaluated on our performance. There has to be more to it than just surviving two days in the forest.”

Raul shrugged his shoulders.

“I think that it will be similar to the missions that we get for the Group Subjugation Engagement class,” Abigal said. “Although they probably won’t release any monsters because the students will be by themselves. But there should be a reason that we will be bringing our weapons along.”

“Ugh. I wish they could just give us monsters to fight anyways. It’s not like we couldn’t handle bottom-ranked monsters by ourselves. The fact that we have to team up to be allowed to fight them right now feels ridiculous.” Liang complained as she turned her head up from the problem that I was helping her with.

“Not every student can handle bottom-ranked monsters by themselves yet, Liang. You have to think about them too. For example, most supporters would have a hard time fighting a Black-Striped Fox right now, even though you’d probably be able to kill it with just one blow.” Jean pointed out.

“You say supporters, but you meant Kim, didn’t you?” Liang grinned.

“Actually, I didn’t.” Jean looked at me. “From what Abigail has told me, I think Kim would do fine on his own.”

Abigail nodded her head at Jean’s statement. “Yes. I think you’re underestimating Kim, Liang. Not only is he a decent sharpshooter, but his knowledge about bottom-ranked monsters is impressive. During all of our team’s three missions, he has been a valuable asset.”

Liang’s eyes opened wide, and she turned around to look at me. “Really? So you’re stronger than I thought?”

“Probably, yeah.” I had no idea how strong she thought I was, but I’d grown enough during these last few weeks to feel like I was at least stronger than that.

“Then, do you wanna fight?”

“…No. Keep studying.” I turned her head back towards the table. She really was obsessed.

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