“Okay, what did you do and how can I do that…” I asked as soon as we were back out of the match, earning a short laugh from Accalia.
“What I did was actually really simple. It just takes practice. The four arrows I fired first were simply needed to stay airborne long enough for the fifth to be fired. Each of them had my mana following them, so that I could activate a spell.” She explained patiently, bringing her arms together behind her back.
“When you want to imbue an arrow with a spell, you need to cast the spell around it, and then direct its power inward. You can do the same thing with anything really, and it serves as a temporary enchantment. But if the energy is too much, the arrows break.”
“The fifth arrow was the targeting arrow. With its location as the base, I used natural energy to warp my other four arrows to that location. Then boom.” She brought her hands out in front of her and spread her fingers to emphasize her ‘boom’.
“After that, it was an elementalist spell imbued into the sixth arrow to make sure and clean everything up. Really, you were pretty close to beating it in your run, you just made a small mistake.” As she spoke, the replay of my own fight appeared.
“This insect’s special property was its adaptability. Your first arrow shaved off some of it from the side, but that was from the concussive force rather than the fire, so they didn’t gain an immunity. However, they did learn to avoid your arrows.” The fight played out while she spoke about each portion, pausing for each of my attacks.
“With your second arrow, they chose to make distance with you and attack from a new angle rather than take another blast. Now, this is where you made your first real mistake. It’s forgivable since you didn’t know they could adapt to energy at the time, though. The fire that you used was a druid’s natural flame, so it was too weak to kill enough of the swarm before they adapted.”
“You made a good decision to fire lightning next, as it is a practically undodgeable attack. Unfortunately, your lightning wasn’t big enough because you hadn’t killed enough with your previous fire.” Accalia sighed as she spoke, shaking her head. “Really, there wasn’t all that much you could have done at that point. They already knew to avoid your arrows, while fire and lightning no longer worked. If you knew an acidic spell that covered an area, that might have done the trick, but I’ve never seen you use one.”
“That’s because I haven’t learned one.” I pointed out, shaking my head as well. “Still, at least this was informative. Now… let’s continue.”
Like this, Accalia threw me against one monster after another. Some of them required interesting strategies like the swarm, while others simply required identifying a weak point or, as I like to put it, ‘hitting them really hard’. Naturally, I did best against that last category.
This wasn’t quite the same type of training I expected to be having with Accalia and Keliope, but it was definitely helping. Live combat allowed me the chance to better hone my reflexes as well as practice actual battle skills. Even if I only won two out of the ten fights I had Accalia put me against, I felt like I had come away from it with positive growth. As for why I only had her put me against ten monsters, that was because I wanted to take some more time to practice my skills in private.
By the time we were done, several hours had already passed since the start of the training, so I was more than ready to head back to my own room and just relax for a bit. Until, that is, I saw Terra waiting for me on the bed again. “What’s up?” I asked as soon as I entered the room, knowing that the last time I found her waiting for me like this, it was bad news.
“What, can’t a girl just stop by because she missed her man?” Terra asked in a teasing tone, and for a moment I thought she might have really meant it. At least, until her next words came out. “Alright, so I’m bored… Sue me.”
I couldn’t help but let out a light laugh at that. “You’re bored? I didn’t know you could even get bored…” This was the first time that I could think of her coming to me with this problem.
“Well, can you blame me?” She asked, falling back to sprawl out on the bed. “The worlds are all paused. Leowynn is busy watching Ryone. Accalia and Keliope are training to make sure that they can teach you. Udona is practicing card combinations in her room, and Rivy is busy playing with Bihena! There’s literally nothing for me to do right now!”
It was cute to see her arms flailing about on the bed, bringing a laugh from me. “Well, what do you want me to do about it?” I asked curiously, and her head suddenly lifting up to eye me hungrily. “Aside from that. I’ve gotta make sure I’m ready for a fight, so every minute counts.”
Terra’s eyes widened in surprise when I blatantly turned her down, her ears lowering against her head. “Well… can I watch you train, then? I can emulate the skills that you use, so you can watch them on me and find ways to improve them?”
I gave a brief nod after hearing her suggestion. “Alright. Right now, I’m trying to practice the Thousand Arms, Ten Thousand Threads art.” When I told her that, Terra briefly closed her eyes before nodding. “I don’t suppose you’re able to show me what it looks like when it is fully mastered?”
Terra opened her eyes briefly to look at me, seeming lost in thought. “You bought the full information globe from the market… so it’s not against any rules.” She laid her head back on the bed as she continued to think about it. “There are… some restrictions. I can’t transmit the sensation of it to you, only show you myself using it.”
“That would be enough.” I couldn’t help but become excited as I heard that she could actually do this. I had originally asked it as a joke, and hadn’t expected her to answer like this. If I was able to see the art used to its full power, I could maybe get some new ideas for it myself.
“Alright, then. How do you want me to demonstrate it?” She asked, once again lifting her head to look over at me.
“Do you know what Accalia and I were doing for our training?” When I saw her nod, I gave a relieved sigh. “Could you show it off in a fight like that, against one of her monsters?”
Her brows narrowed in thought as she considered that question. “I could, but it won’t help you much to see it like that. At its full power, it would put me too much higher level than them. How about I show you in that fight, and then let you study me using it back in the Administration Room?”
I gave a quick nod to her suggestion. “Yes, that would work well.” I was really excited to see just how strong this martial art could become. And with her saying that it alone would make her that much stronger than a Keeper-level monster, that only made me all the more so excited.
“Alright.” Terra nodded, pushing herself back up to a sitting position. As I moved to sit next to her, she pulled up the game interface. “Which one do you want me to fight against?”
Briefly considering the ten monsters Accalia had pit me against, I had Terra fight the sixth. It was a monster focused entirely on strengthening its physical body. While it was slow enough that I could dodge any of its attacks, I wasn’t able to do a single thing to damage it physically. Ultimately, I had won this fight by latching onto its back and draining its ki. One of my only two victories.
However, its insane defense would let me have a better grasp of the destructive force behind the art. I watched as Terra put in the same settings that Accalia had used for her match, replicating my own level of power. “With your amount of ki and mana, I can just barely qualify to do this.”
I also knew that the only reason that she could do this in the first place was because as a System Companion she had all of the system’s knowledge. Whether it was this, Aki Seppo, maybe even MissTerry’s signature move that was not on the market, she would know how to do all of it perfectly. It was just a matter of whether the rules allowed her to demonstrate that knowledge and skill. And thankfully, having bought the information released that restriction.
Once again I found myself floating in midair as a spectator. Down below, Terra stood on the stone platform, her eyes looking straight up at me. Her face was more solemn than I had seen it in a long time, her typical playful expression gone. Guess she’s not that much of a fan of combat. Or maybe it’s frustrating for her because she still has to be careful of what she can show.
Across from her on the far side of the field stood a lumbering giant. Ten meters tall with spiked rocks protruding from its back. Its skin was a dull grey, its hands large enough to easily engulf my entire body. More than once it had nearly done so, in fact.
“No weapon. No armor.” Terra called out, even before the game had the chance to ask for her to choose them. “Ready.”
The ground shook as the giant walked closer to Terra, but at the same time she began walking closer to it. Focusing my eyes, I could vaguely see the threads of chakra spreading out from her body, but they did not go far. In fact, before they had really traveled, they turned back to wrap around her, quickly becoming visible to the naked eye as she was wrapped in a blue cocoon.
From within the cocoon, Terra emerged. And then she emerged again, and again. One by one a hundred Terras stepped out before the cocoon shattered, and I had no way to tell which was the original. For all I knew, they all might have been, or maybe none of them were.
“Ten Thousand Threads first form, Army of One.” The Terras all spoke in unison, and I could tell that they were only talking for my benefit. “Thousand Arms first form, One Fist.”
The one hundred Terras all raised their arms, pointing them at the approaching giant. Blue strands of light stretched out from their hands, forming into a hundred giant fists that sailed through the air to punch at the monster. I knew that this alone wouldn’t kill it, and she was only doing this for my sake, but I still watched the monster stagger back from the blow.
“Now… Thousand Arms, Ten Thousand Threads true form.” The voices all spoke as one, the Terras converging on a single location to become one body again. “Voidwalk.” Terra’s body shimmered, becoming translucent while specks of blue light began to shine off of her.
Instead of launching an attack, she simply walked towards the giant. With every step, her body grew. Two meters, three, five, soon she was just as large as the giant, but her steps continued. Although she didn’t continue to grow, she didn’t stop walking even as the giant brought one of its powerful arms up to grab her.
I watched as the pale arm passed directly through her body without the slightest resistance, and Terra simply continued to walk. Once her body passed through that of the giant, I found the two of us back on the bed, Terra propping her chin up on her hands next to me while I processed the scene I just saw.
I knew what Voidwalk was. It was clearly listed as the final ability of the martial art, which could only be achieved by combining both branches into one at their full power. It turns the user’s own body into a construct of thought, and lets them directly control their body at will, attacking anyone else’s mind they make contact with.
“That was… amazing.” I couldn’t help but mutter. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to gleam much new information from the fight, just as Terra had said. The fight had been entirely one-sided, so there was nothing for me to really learn as an observer. “If it’s alright to ask, just how strong is that martial art?”
Terra let out a long sigh, falling onto her back against the bed again. “If you just master one branch or the other, it’s enough for a rank one Keeper. If you master both, and combine them, it’s enough to fight in the second rank on its own.”
I once again thought back to the move that MissTerry had used against me. “I’m not allowed to ask about another Keeper’s rank, am I?” Terra’s answer was to simply shake her head, her tail slowly swaying off the bed between her legs.
I hadn’t thought that I would be able to, otherwise the Gilded Branch would never be able to sell information. I reached my hand back, and lightly scratched at Terra’s fuzzy ears. Her body stiffened up briefly before she began to relax, a soft purring sound escaping her. “Okay… fine… I’ll give you another demonstration here, like I said.” She muttered as she tilted her head to press it against my hand, her eyes half-lidded.